- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 19, 2002

Jim Albarado thinks Trent Lott's critics should get over it.
Mr. Albarado, a Republican and a Mexican-American, said he wasn't at all offended by the remarks that the incoming Senate majority leader made at Sen. Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday celebration and hopes Mr. Lott can keep his job.
"I think Senator Lott should remain majority leader. People get their feelings hurt too easily. Too much emphasis is put on political correctness. His remarks didn't bother me at all," said Mr. Albarado, owner of Leakey Auto Supply in Leakey, Texas.
The furor began when Mr. Lott said the country would not have had "all these problems," if Mr. Thurmond had won his 1948 presidential bid as a candidate who favored racial segregation. He later rejected that platform.
Bill Munn, owner of Black Mountain Bakery in Black Mountain, N.C., said he, too, is a "registered Republican." But unlike Mr. Albarado, he said Mr. Lott, Mississippi Republican, should be ousted as the Senate's top leader in the 108th Congress.
"I saw on television where Lott made that same statement before, and that's very damning," Mr. Munn said. "I think Lott is too damaged to stay in the leadership post. The conservatives are going after him, and he's skating on very thin ice right now."
Mr. Munn said he was willing to give Mr. Lott "a little latitude, since he obviously was trying to make [Mr. Thurmond] feel good" at his 100th birthday party. "He probably even told him he looked good."
But Mr. Munn said it bothers him Mr. Lott has made similar comments before.
"That would give the Senate a 50-50 split [between Republicans and Democrats], and the Republicans would have Vice President Dick Cheney to break tie votes," Mr. Munn added.
As with Mr. Albarado and Mr. Munn, opinions are mixed around the country as to what should happen when Senate Republicans decide Mr. Lott's fate in a closed-door caucus Jan. 6.
Steve Bainter, co-owner of Steve's Barbershop in Peoria, Ill., said he and his customers "absolutely" believe Mr. Lott should hold on to his job and blamed newspapers and TV news.
Asked whether the Mississippi Republican has lost his ability to lead, Mr. Bainter said, "Not at all … this story has gotten way out of hand, mostly because of the press."
The barber said he was not sure what to make of Mr. Lott's remarks.
"When it first happened, I thought he was trying to be good to a good ol' boy," Mr. Bainter said yesterday.
But he said he has found it "tiring" that Mr. Lott "keeps saying he's sorry over and over again to everyone and his brother."
Cindy Rimpela, business manager of the Ashtabula Art Center in Ashtabula, Ohio, said, "I definitely think [Mr. Lott] is wrong for the comments he made. He basically should have kept his mouth shut. He didn't, and now he has to face the consequences."
Ms. Rimpela said she believes Mr. Lott's string of apologies are simply excuses for prejudice and thinks he should resign.
"I definitely don't feel he should still be in there. I think he stated something he has always felt. He struck me as being very prejudiced and that he's trying to cover himself with these apologies," Ms. Rimpela said.
In contrast, Mr. Albarado said yesterday he believes Mr. Lott is "probably remorseful."
At the Jamestown Motel in Jamestown, N.D., the owner Tom, who declined to give his last name, said that while Mr. Lott's remarks were "unfortunate," the senator is being too abject and stringing out the story.
"He's probably working too hard to make this go away," Tom said, adding that he questioned the wisdom of Mr. Lott's "going on a black television station to apologize."
He added that it's not unusual for a politician to put his foot in his mouth.
"Politicians talk so much that, every other day, they say stupid things," said Tom, who said he has been following the Lott flap closely on the television in his office.
But several people said they and others have not been following closely the dispute that has consumed Washington for more than a week.
The bartender at the American Legion post in Greensburg, Pa., near Pittsburgh said there has not been much discussion there about Mr. Lott's difficulties.
"But what I did hear about it, they think he should go," he said.
Asked whether Legion members feel the Mississippi Republican's comments were racist, the bartender, who refused to give his name, said, "Definitely."
Damian Tingley, an employee at an auto body shop in Charlestown, R.I., said of Mr. Lott's remarks: "I'm not for that. He shouldn't have said that."
But Mr. Tingley said he hasn't been absorbing news accounts of the situation enough to make a judgment on whether Mr. Lott should stay as Republican leader.
Several other people reached yesterday, including a man who answered the phone at an equipment business in Devil's Lake, N.D., and a woman working at a soda fountain in Leakey, said they did not feel qualified to respond.

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