- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 22, 2002

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) Tiffany Strunk wrote "We love you Sen. Lott" on a pair of fluorescent green signs and posted them outside the veteran senator's office and home in Pascagoula.
At the office, motorists yelled out their windows at the knot of media gathered outside. "I hope you're satisfied," one woman shouted as she drove past in a sports utility vehicle.
But elsewhere around Mississippi, some residents worried what Sen. Trent Lott's resignation as majority leader would mean for the state, while others applauded the decision.
Mr. Lott resigned Friday following a tribute he gave Dec. 6 at the 100th birthday party for Sen. Strom Thurmond, South Carolina Republican. Mr. Lott, Mississippi Republican, said the nation would have been better off if Mr. Thurmond had won his 1948 campaign for the presidency. Mr. Thurmond ran that race as a Dixiecrat, on a segregationist platform.
Rep. Charles W. Pickering, Mississippi Republican, called Mr. Lott's resignation as Senate Republican leader a "courageous and selfless act."
"His decision today lays the foundation to make good come from a painful and difficult experience," Mr. Pickering said.
Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove said Mr. Lott's resignation was unfortunate for the state. But so, too, were the remarks that led him there, Mr. Musgrove said.
"His remarks are not a reflection of the Mississippi of 2002, and we hope they will not have a negative impact on our efforts to build a better quality of life for all Mississippians," Mr. Musgrove said.
Clarke Reed, who served as Mississippi Republican chairman for 10 years and as national committee member for 18 years, said Mr. Lott continues to have widespread support in the state in large part because of a personality with which many of its residents can identify.
"We're a provincial state. Having a senator that's respected is a big deal to us," Mr. Reed said.
Reaction was predictably strong in Mr. Lott's hometown of Pascagoula.
Mr. Lott declined to come out of his home and kept the blinds drawn. His wife emerged once to give a handwritten note to the media, explaining that Mr. Lott would have no comments other than a statement he released earlier asking reporters to "please go home."
The senator did accept visits from friends and others who came by to show support.
"Unfortunately, a lot of people have misperceptions about Mississippi," said Mrs. Strunk, who had hung "We love you Sen. Lott" signs outside his home and office. "I think because he was from Mississippi, he took a beating. That's probably 90 percent of it."
But state NAACP President Eugene Bryant said Mr. Lott was not the right leader for black Mississippians and should have stepped down.
"I think the Republicans recognized that the African-American community was very displeased with Lott's comments and they attempted to reach out to the African-American community, and in that light they decided to make a change," Mr. Bryant said.
Ellis Nichols, a 56-year-old federal employee in Jackson, said he was offended Mr. Lott had to step down when former President Bill Clinton did not.
"Why punish Trent Lott for something he apologized for four times but didn't do, and Clinton never apologized publicly or privately for all his wrongdoings," Mr. Nichols said.
Michele Jack, a human resources manager at a Jackson bank, said she did not know if Mr. Lott's resignation as Senate leader was appropriate. Regardless, Mr. Lott's fall will likely hurt Mississippi, she said.
"It's a shame to give up such a powerful position. I'm sure it was beneficial to Mississippi," Mrs. Jack said.
Mr. Lott said he would remain a senator for Mississippi, where he won re-election in 2000 by a 2-1 margin.

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