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This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, December 14, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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SEN. TRENT LOTT, R-MISS., MAJORITY LEADER: I apologize for opening old wounds and hurting many Americans who feel so deeply in this area. I take full responsibility for my remarks.


MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: I'm Mort Kondracke.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: And I'm Fred Barnes, and we're The Beltway Boys.

And Senator Trent Lott, the Senate majority leader, has apologized, he's apologized, he's apologized. I mean, it's lots of apologies by him, three times in that press conference on Friday in Mississippi. I think he's probably apologized enough now and he's condemned segregation, which he had to do, as immoral and wrong and so on.

KONDRACKE: Do you think he means it?

BARNES: I think he does mean it. I think we're through with that phase.

And there's another important fact here and that is, not a single senator, Republican or Democrat, has come out and said, Lott's got to step down as majority leader, something Lott noted at that press conference on Friday. Listen to him.


LOTT: No senator has spoken to me about the possibility of me stepping down directly, publicly or privately. So I'm not about to resign for an accusation that I'm something I'm not.


BARNES: I think what all this adds up to is, Lott is going to survive as majority leader.

KONDRACKE: Yes. I agree, I think he's going to survive. But he's wounded, and he's going to provide a ripe target for the Democrats, who want to make sure that George W. Bush does not cut into their African- American base.

George Bush pounded on Lott's remarks about, about Strom Thurmond, and made it clear that his kind of Republican Party is not based on white supremacy. Watch this.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Any suggestion that the segregated past was acceptable or positive is offensive, and it is wrong.

Recent comments by Senator Lott do not reflect the spirit of our country.

He has apologized, and rightly so.


KONDRACKE: Yes, Bush's spokesman said that Bush did not want Lott to resign, but on the other hand, Bush never came out and said, you know, Trent Lott is a good man and he ought to stay.


KONDRACKE: In addition to which, White House aides were putting it out that Bush, you know, has never really liked Lott and my guess is that Bush would have just as soon have seen somebody like Mitch McConnell or Bill Frist end up as Senate majority leader.

BARNES: Yes, you may be right. Karl Rove, of course, is very close to Bill Frist. They worked together a lot in the campaign.

Now. There are a couple of other aspects of the whole Lott episode that I think are worth mentioning.

One is that right in the vanguard of people criticizing Lott after he made those remarks, you know, about Strom Thurmond and how his Dixiecrat presidential campaign -- he wished it had been successful in 1948, right after that, conservatives, and particularly conservative commentators, jumped out and were the most critical -- among the most critical of, of Lott, and a number of them, like our friend Charles Krauthammer, urging -- saying Lott should step down as, as majority leader. National Review said the same thing.

That's one thing, conservatives. Secondly, white Southerners. Now, I certainly didn't see a lot of white Southerners rushing to the defense of Lott for his comments about Strom Thurmond. They didn't at all. And some of the Southern newspapers have been particularly strong in criticizing Lott. The Columbia State, for instance, in South Carolina, and urging him to step down.

Now, what all this means, I think, is, one, that the South really has changed remarkably in the last 30, 35 years on racial matters. And it was forced on them, but, you know, but they have changed. And secondly, that conservatives do not look back nostalgically at the days of segregation in the South, not at all.

And instead, they were angry at Lott's remarks and embarrassed by them.

KONDRACKE: Look, I think some of what you're talking about was based on genuine outrage, and I, and I'm glad of it. But some of it was also based on the fact that what Lott exposed was the fact that the rise of the Republican Party in the South originally was based on opposition to civil rights. And you can't deny it.

And that's a strain that still exists in the South.


KONDRACKE: Thirdly, thirdly, I think that some of those conservatives were saying that Lott is not a particularly strong majority leader, and that they'd just as soon have somebody else in his place.

BARNES: Yes, and, I think that's right, and look, I'm glad you used the word "originally," because originally that, that did help the the Republicans. Well, some of it, but not much.

Anyway, but The Wall Street Journal, particularly, noted this point in an editorial on Thursday, saying your point about they'd rather have somebody else than Lott as majority leader. "Had the majority leader vote been held this week," the Journal wrote, "he [Lott] would no doubt be facing a stiff challenge from the likes of Kentucky's Mitch McConnell, Bill Frist of Tennessee, or Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum.  We think" -- that's The Wall Street Journal saying that -- "We think they would all do better as GOP leaders than Mr. Lott."


BARNES: There you have it.

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