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Gordon Smith Under Fire At Home For Lott Praise

Sen Trent Lott learned the hard way that you have to watch what you say during fawning retirement events, when his kind words for Strom Thurmond’s 1948 presidential campaign—run on a platform of segregation—cost him his Republican leadership position in 2002.

The lesson, though, has apparently not been learned by a few of his colleagues. Remarks made Tuesday by Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) at a fawning retirement ceremony for the Mississippi Republican are drawing heat, especially as Smith fights for his seat in a 2008 battleground race.

“I watched over international news as his words were misconstrued, words which we had heard him utter many times in his big warm-heartedness trying to make one of our colleagues, Strom Thurmond, feel good at 100 years old. We knew what he meant,” Smith said Tuesday.

Yet in 2002, Smith had supported Lott’s ouster after saying he was “deeply dismayed” by the comments.

This morning, The Oregonian stepped in, opining that “on issues carrying as much emotional freight as race – and there aren’t many – a U.S. senator needs to speak with care and consistency. Otherwise, he could find people speaking at his own retirement tribute.”