CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Sen. George Allen Reacts to Lott Resignation
Aired December 20, 2002 - 13:04 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Now for more reaction on the resignation of Trent Lott as leader of the Senate, let's listen to Senator George Allen.
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SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R), VIRGINIA: ... past generations who felt the viciousness of the decisive and destructive discriminatory policies of the past.
Now, now we must move forward in a positive light. We have the opportunity in my view to elect a new leader, and I felt that we leaded a new leader, as you all now, who will accurately portray the sentiments of Senate Republicans in advance opportunities for all Americans. I'm one who some of you have heard give speeches for many years. I've always talked about the importance of making sure that every single American, regardless of their race, their religion, their ethnicity or their gender has an equal opportunity to compete and succeed to the best of their ability, ingenuity and hard work. This's why education is important. Safe communities are important. These are the ideas of empowerment in our party. The Republican Party trusts free people and free enterprise and wants to empower individuals to live the American dream for themselves, their families and their communities.
I believe that Bill Frist is the person who is most capable of accurately portraying the sentiments of Senate Republicans to advance opportunities for all Americans. His capable to represent the views and express them in a coherent, logical and I think motivational way, as well. He has my support, and I believe, also, ultimately, will have the support of all Senate Republicans.
QUESTION: How heavily did Virginia history...
ALLEN: Being a student of history, and those deplorable, discriminatory policies of the past that were a part of our state of Virginia, as well as many other states, maybe makes some of us more sensitive to how this...
PHILLIPS: Speaking out on Trent Lott and moving behind Bill Frist, you're hearing from Senator Allen of Virginia, and tremendous support of the stepping down of Trent Lott and the possible successor being Bill Frist.
Now to Capitol Hill and the bombshell, news that Trent Lott will step down from the leadership post. For more on that decision and the fallout it's generating, we turn to congressional correspondent Jon Karl. He's been all over this all morning.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, right, to exactly what Trent Lott said, he put out a statement, it was a short statement, just one paragraph explaining his decision to step down. I'd like read that to you, "That in the interest of pursuing the best agenda for the future of our country, I will not seek to remain as majority leader of the U.S. Senate for the 108th Congress, effective January 6th, 2003. To all those who have offered me their friendship, support and prayers, I will be eternally grateful. I will continue to serve the people of Mississippi in the United States Senate."
So taking away something that had been talked about, the possibility that he would leave and allow a Democrat to replace him. That is not going to happen.
Now the race is on to replace Trent Lott, and far and away the front-runner in this race right now is only official candidate in the race, and that's Tennessee's Bill Frist.
A little while ago, he had somebody come out very strongly in support of him, and that's Senator Pete Domenici, Republican of New Mexico.
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SEN. PETE DOMENICI (R), NEW MEXICO: I believe it's clear, it's obvious, and therefore, we should select Bill Frist. I don't think there's any question he's going to be our new leader. and I think we've moved along now and when that happens, not only will he be the new leader, but there will be a new spirit of unification, and let's work together and get on with the difficult issues that confront our country and the Republican Party.
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PHILLIPS: Now, it's not a done deal yet, because Senator Rick Santorum, the number three person on in the Senate for the Republicans, is considering a challenge. He's considering running against Bill Frist. He's been sounding out, his colleagues talking to him, seeing if he'd have support. If he got in, aides to Santorum, saying that he would position himself as the conservative candidate in the race, comparing himself to Frist, who he would portray as a moderate, but right now, a lot of momentum there for Senator Bill Frist.
As a matter of fact, I have got a list now of some of the candidates, some of the Republicans, who have come out with statements today and last night supporting Bill Frist, and, Kyra, it is a pretty impressive list in terms of diversity, in terms of politics, and also in terms of geography -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right, Jon Karl, on the Hill. We'll continue to follow the fallout. Thank you so much.
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