Trent Lott: ‘Ain’t No Such Thing as Purity’ in Leadership

As for McCarthy’s possible ascension to speaker, Lott said “he’ll be fine,” noting McCarthy’s “demeanor is good.”

“Kevin, he worked in the House,” Lott said. “He worked with [former Rep.] Bill Thomas, which was the most difficult person to work with you ever met,” he added, causing one reporter to let out a laugh.

“Well, Bill knows that,” Lott responded.

As for who would succeed McCarthy, Lott said he is partial to Scalise, though House Budget Chairman Tom Price of Georgia would also do well, and he said he didn’t think Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., would run for leader, something Gowdy confirmed later Tuesday. Either Scalise or Price would need to be able to unite the divided GOP conference, Lott said.

“I think either one of the two guys running for majority leader would be a pretty good go-between,” Lott said. “Both of those guys will be able to work with the speaker, work with the bulk — the majority of the conference, but also have ties to the more conservative elements. But the problem is, and I experienced it, and I’m experiencing it now, once you get in the leadership, there ain’t no such thing as purity.”

And it’s not just the House that has dealt with intraparty divisions. Lott did not mince words when asked about Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who has harshly criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

“I think it’s totally inappropriate, out of order, and I resent the hell out of it,” Lott said of Cruz’s attacks on Senate leadership. “It’s not good for society, it’s not good for the institution, it’s not good for the party, it’s not good for America.”

Roll Call
9/29/15