Lott, in New Book, Tries to Resolve Thurmond Comment

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After Senator Trent Lott was deposed as the Republican leader in December 2002 because of a racially charged remark, he slipped into the background, quietly rebuilding his power and career. But Mr. Lott is quiet no more, with a new memoir and an accompanying national book tour in which he is providing a behind-the-scenes view of his more than 30 years representing Mississippi in Congress and his admittedly inept handling of a furor that began with words of praise for Senator Strom Thurmond at his 100th birthday party.

"This is a story I wanted to tell," Mr. Lott said as he held his first autograph session for the book, "Herding Cats," at a bookstore on Thursday in Reston, Va.

The book covers Mr. Lott's hardscrabble childhood in Mississippi, his days at the University of Mississippi during forced integration, his early years as a rare Southern Republican, his rapid rise in the House and Senate, and his fall after what he called "my innocent and thoughtless remark" just as he was to make a triumphant return as the Senate majority leader.

The remark, delivered to a crowd packed into a Senate reception room on Dec. 5, 2002, would soon become infamous: "I want to say this about my state," Mr. Lott told the partygoers. "When Strom Thurmond ran for president, Mississippians voted for him. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over the years either."

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