Lott said he would survive any challenge to his post as majority leader, and Tuesday he picked up the support of a few GOP senators, including Alaska’s Ted Stevens, who vowed to “defend my friend.” Others who have voiced support for Lott include Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Michael DeWine of Ohio.

The comments from Stevens, the second-most senior Republican senator, were one of the strongest endorsements of Lott since he set off a political firestorm when he praised Thurmond’s unsuccessful presidential bid at a birthday party December 5. Praise of that campaign drew condemnation — from President Bush and others — because Thurmond ran on a segregationist platform.

Stevens said he believes Lott meant the comments as praise for Thurmond as a military man and longtime Senate colleague — not praise for his past segregationist ways. He said Lott’s comments have been blown “out of proportion.”

From CNN.com, “Lott vows to fight for leadership job

Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing Sen. Stevens’ turn the Senatorial spot over to someone else — though that’s not likely to happen until he dies. Ah, well.