Key events that led to Friday's announcement by Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., that he would not seek the position of Senate majority leader for the incoming Congress:

Dec. 5 — Speaking at a 100th birthday party for retiring Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., Lott says his state was "proud" to have voted for Thurmond's presidential bid in 1948, when the one-time Dixiecrat ran on a segregationist platform.

"And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years either," Lott continued.

Dec. 7 — Lott's comments are widely reported in national newspapers and on television news shows. Democrats and Republicans alike immediately criticize his remarks.

Dec. 9 — Lott's office issues the first in what will become a string of apologies for his remarks. Critics immediately attack the statement as insufficient.

Dec. 10 — News reports reveal Lott had made almost identical comments about Thurmond's presidential bid in a 1980 speech while the two men were campaigning for Ronald Reagan in Mississippi.

Dec. 11 — Lott himself apologizes for his Dec. 5 remarks in an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity, saying "I am sorry for my words; they were poorly chosen and insensitive and I regret the way it has been interpreted."

Dec. 12 — President George W. Bush slams Lott's remarks at the Thurmond party, calling them "offensive" and adding they "did not reflect the spirit of the country."

Dec. 16 — In a clear sign that support for Lott is waning, GOP senators announce they will meed on Jan. 6 to discuss the Senate majority leader's post.

Dec. 16 — Lott is interviewed on Black Entertainment Television and offers another apology for his remarks.

Dec. 19 — Lott vows to serve as majority leader, telling local reporters in Mississippi "I am hanging in there." Meanwhile, Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., announces he would serve as majority leader if Lott stepped aside.

Dec. 20 — Lott announces he will step aside as Senate Republican leader, but will retain his seat.