Former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott opposed many of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's initiatives when the two were powerful forces on opposite sides of Washington's political spectrum, but after Kennedy's death late Tuesday, Lott called him a master of compromise who would be sorely missed on Capitol Hill.
"Kennedy, unlike his image of the 'Lion of the Senate' was personally very charming," Lott told the Sun Herald Wednesday. "He was a very good legislator because he knew the art of compromise and he knew how to work the system and how to get bipartisan support. That is a talent that is sorely missing in the Senate now."
Lott characterizes their relationship as two senators on different sides of the aisle who went about things in similar ways.
"One of my greatest compliments is that I was sometimes referred to as sort of a 'happy warrior'," Lott said. "So was he, but coming at things from opposite poles. I disagreed with just about all of his major legislative achievements and quite often voted against them."
Lott said he valued his friendship with Kennedy, who was often the subject of Republican scorn for his "liberal" policies, but often also respected by those who didn't agree with him.
"When you retire from an institution, I think sometimes your memories and your friendships become even more vivid and important," Lott said. "He certainly will be missed. A lot of people will be surprised to hear that coming from a conservative Republican, but the fact of the matter is he had a huge influence over many years in the U.S. Senate. You have to acknowledge that."
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