BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott was in Biloxi Tuesday to speak at the Southern States Energy Board. But before he spoke about energy, Lott told the crowd he had to address the elephant in the room and talked about the government shutdown.
"What we need in Washington now is strong leadership from top to bottom, it begins at The White House," Trent Lott said, "President Obama needs to engage, needs to sit down."
Lott served in the House and Senate for nearly 35 years and admits it was not always easy.
"When I was Senate majority leader and Bill Clinton was president, we met all the time. Did we have a nice easy time? No. We had a lot of disagreements, but we found a way to reach an agreement we thought was good for the country," Lott said.
In 1995, Lott was the majority whip in the Senate when there was a 21 day government shutdown, and he was against it then, too.
"I pulled Newt aside in the leadership office and I said, 'I don't think this is a good idea,'" Lott recalled, "'I don't think we should do it.' But he was determined to do it and we had to deal with that."
After it was over, Lott said some good things came from it.
"It led to a lot of negotiations the next year that were really good for the country, so always look for the kernel of positive aspects, or hope," Lott said. "This situation in Washington now, the economy is not really hurt yet, but it's not helping it. So I hope they can get it resolved this week."
Many blame freshman Senator Ted Cruz and his more than 21 hour speech for leading to the government shutdown. Lott said he can relate to Cruz, but thinks he needs to settle down.
"When I first went to the Senate, I was a rebel warrior type guy and raised a lot of cane and got nothing done," Lott said. "After six months, I said, 'This is not working. I have to change my style, get to know the Senate, get to know the senators.' I spent six months doing that, getting to know the institution. Six and a half years later, I was the majority leader."
Lott believes if he was still in office, things wouldn't be where they are right now.
"I miss it sometimes," Lott said. "But then on days like today, I remember why I left."
Since leaving office in 2007, Lott started his own bipartisan public policy lobbying firm with former Louisiana Democratic Senator John Breaux. Now the two work for another lobbying firm, Patton Boggs, and Lott is affiliated with Butler Snow Law Firm.