CNN BREAKING NEWS
Trent Lott Stepping Down as Senate Majority Leader
Aired December 20, 2002 - 11:46 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We want to talk with a young man named Nic Lott. Nic is no relation to senator Trent Lott. You'll understand when I tell you the next thing. Nic is the first African- American president of the student body at the University of Mississippi. And he is with us now on the phone.
And, Nic, I'm very curious about what you think about all this having watched this in Mississippi.
NIC LOTT, FRIEND OF SEN. LOTT: I want to say thank you all for having me on today. I understand and respect the decision Senator Lott made, and I applaud his dedication to the U.S. Senate and his service to Mississippi. All Mississippians, I think I speak on behalf of many Mississippians, they're very proud of his efforts and his leadership. He's done great things for our state, and we look forward to having him on and keeping him on as our senator from Mississippi.
HARRIS: Nic, what did you make of the controversy as it began to brew and bubble over?
LOTT: I -- let me just say, I can't explain, or defend or justify Senator Lott's remarks, but I accepted his apology. I know Senator Lott. He's done a lot of great things for minorities throughout our state, and I interned for Senator Lott a few years ago, and during my internship, we had interns from Jackson State University and Alcorn State University, two of our historically black colleges here in Mississippi, and he was very, very sincere and caring, and wanted to make sure that everyone had an experience and understood the whole process of governing.
So Senator Lott has been a great friend, always been supportive of me throughout my time as serving as student body president at Ole Miss. and I think it was blown a little out of proportion here. I think that special interest groups and the national media may have had a role in Senator Lott's coming to this decision, but I look forward to him continuing his service for Mississippi and for citizens around the country.
HARRIS: Let me ask you this, Nic, are you in the minority, if you can use that term, are you in the minority of those who think that way about both Senator Lott and about the controversy and the way it unfolded, particularly amongst black Mississippians? Do a lot of people down there feel the way that you do about this issue, or are you alone on this?
LOTT: Well I think a lot of people share my feelings on this. A few days ago, we had our state representative George Flags. He's the former chairman of our legislative black caucus here in Mississippi, a Democrat, very liberal, released a statement saying we support Senator Lott. We know that he's done some great things for our state, and we stand behind him, and so I think you would find throughout or state, Leon, folks that are supportive of his efforts and what he's doing here. I think we should never become a country where we cannot forgive people for things that they've done in the past. I think it's time that we move on from this.
HARRIS: How about among students? I would imagine that students have got to be talking about this, and I'm wondering whether or not this whole incident has either changed one way or another the students, their opinion of either the senator or of the Republican Party there.
LOTT: Well, there are mixed feelings throughout the college campuses in Mississippi.
But, again, overall, I believe folks are aware of the increase in funding and research that's being able to carry out on college campuses, and that Senator Lott has brought to our state.
And so I think they respect that. Again, they see that Senator Lott has issued an apology, and they've accepted that had, and so we're willing to move on from this.
HARRIS: Nic, thank you very much. Nic Lott, the student body president at the University of Mississippi.
Very articulate young man. Good luck in your studies, Nic. All the best to you.
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