Trent Lott: I cannot stay on the sidelines

By Meggan Gray – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - In the two years since retiring from the U.S. Senate, we've heard very little from the man who once lead his fellow Republicans as majority leader.

A lot has changed in Washington since then, but Lott said he's ready to add his voice back into the national conversation. He shared some of his thoughts at the Biloxi Chamber's Morning Call breakfast Friday, where he received a warm welcome.

"I have watched our government very closely for 40 years," Lott told the crowd. "Right now, I'm more worried about where we're headed than I've ever been, across the board."

The retired senator touched on several hot-button issues in Washington right now. Everything from military deployments and global warming, to the current health care reform bill under Senate debate.

"They still haven't seen the bill they're going to be voting on Christmas Eve. They still haven't had the cost assessment of what it's going to cost. That is not the way to legislate," Lott said.

Now more than ever, he believes members of Congress should put aside their differences to find a solution, but he knows that may be difficult.

"What's going on now is very ugly in Washington. And when I talk to my colleagues in the Senate, even my colleague and my buddy Thad Cochran, he says, 'What did you know and when did you know it? Because you got out in the nick of time.' It's mean it's nasty. In fact some of these guys don't even know how to pass stomach gas, it's gotten so bad up there. But I am here, and they are there and that makes me very happy."

Lott also said he's been happy staying out of the public eye for a while.  After representing Mississippi for 35 years, as a congressman and then senator, Lott said he felt it was necessary to take a break.

"I think when you change roles or retire, you need to take a little time off to think about it and give people a rest from you. And I've been through that. I cannot stay on the sidelines. I'm not ever going to run for office again, but I'm going to be in the arena," Lott said. "I don't officially work on your payroll now, but I'll always be here for coast. Anytime I can help, if you've got a problem."

Lott has been the featured speaker at the December Morning Call for just about as long as he worked on Capitol Hill. This was his 36th year addressing the Biloxi Chamber. But it was his first talk since he resigned from the Senate in 2007.

Since retirement, Lott has partnered with former Senator John Breaux of Louisiana as a lobbyist and consultant. He said it's a new life for him, one that allows him to spend more time with his family, which is just what he wanted to do.

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