Lott: I think that a lot of the fundamental principals that Jefferson Davis believed in are very important today to people all across the country, and they apply to the Republican Party. .... After the War between the States, a lot of Southerners identified with the Democrat Party because of the radical Republicans we had at the time, particularly in the Senate. The South was wedded to that party for years and years and years. But we have seen the Republican Party become more conservative and more oriented toward traditional family values, the religious values that we hold dear in the South. And the Democratic party has been going in the other direction. As a result of that, more and more of The South's sons, Jefferson Davis' descendants, direct or indirect, are becoming involved in the Republican Party. The platform we had in Dallas, the 1984 Republican platform, all the ideas we supported there --- from tax policy, to foriegn policy: from individual rights, to neighborhood security --- are things that Jefferson Davis believed in.But Lott's lament in the following about the insufficient segregationist zeal among his fellow Republicans at the time is a reminder that three decades ago, the more blatant white racism and hostility to civil rights and to blacks, Latinos and Arabs that are so characteristic of today's Republican Party were still considered more of a shameful thing than it is now:
Partisan: We have another example which seems to defy political reality. The Republican party gets very little of the black vote. Yet when you come with a controversial issue like the King holiday, which more or less made Martin Luther King a symbol equivalent to George Washington, you find a vast majority of Republicans --- even Southern Republicans -- going along. Where is the gain for the Republican Party? The one instance where it has been disproven as a political advantage, Jesse Helms was 200 points down in North Carolina before he made this a more issue with his opponent. Then Helms pulled up to a neck-and-neck position in the poll.This was the same Trent Lott that the Republican Senators elected as their Majority Leader in 2001. His tenure in that role turned out to be relatively short-lived when he publicly praised Strom Thurmond's 1948 Presidential campaign defense of segregation, lynch-murder and white racism.
Lott: Well, I think it is a mistake to vote for something like that. It is either needed or not, it is either right or wrong. And I would not vote for another national holiday for anybody, including Thomas Jefferson. I would vote for eliminating some of the ones we already have, as a matter of fact. Look at the cost involved in the Martin Luther King holiday and the fact that we have not done it for a lot of other people that were more deserving. I just think it was basically wrong.
The Republican Party's embrace of segregation and white racism has only intensified since 2001.