December 16, 2002
Posted at: 2:00 p.m. CDT
Updated at: 3:20 p.m. CDT
WASHINGTON -- Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln says if Trent Lott were a Democrat he'd have to go.
The Republican in line to become Senate Majority Leader next month has created a swirl of controversy over his recent racially-charged remarks. So far Senate Republicans have been reluctant to ask Lott to give up the leadership role.
But Lincoln says that under the same circumstances, she would be very comfortable with asking a Democrat to forego taking leadership of the Senate. Lincoln says Lott's comments were the latest in a series of similar remarks over many years that establish a pattern.
She says the firestorm surrounding Lott is divisive at a time when the country must be united for its security and economic well-being.
Republican Senate leaders have summoned the rank and file to a meeting on January 6 to determine the fate of Trent Lott as Senate Republican leader. The move sets the stage for new leadership, with the Senate set to convene the next day under Republican control.
The meeting was called after consultation with Lott and Senator Don Nickles of Oklahoma, who broke ranks yesterday by calling for new elections. Under GOP rules, any senator can call for a vote on leadership once the meeting has started, but no vote will be taken unless a majority wants one.
Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the head of the GOP campaign effort, says he and his colleagues will decide what is best for the Senate and for the country, and that no decision has been made.
There has been an increasing call for Lott to step down after his remarks that the nation would have been better off had Strom Thurmond been elected president as a segregationist in 1948.