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POLITICS

In new book, Lanny Davis recalls prayer meeting with Jesse Jackson, Trent Lott

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Yeas and Nays,Politics,Nikki Schwab

Legal crisis manager Lanny Davis wrote 13 chapters filled with "Crisis Tales" for his new book of the same name, but there was only one story that he needed permission to publish. That chapter, Davis' favorite, was the story of how then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., prayed his way to redemption after his Senate leadership-toasting toast to the late Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., back in 2002.

Lott, as you may recall, touted Thurmond's anti-civil rights presidential platform at his 100th birthday party. "And if the rest of the country had followed our lead we wouldn't have had to deal with all these problems over the years, either," Lott had said. His words snowballed into a scandal, and he was forced to step down from his leadership gig.

Meanwhile, the Rev. Jesse Jackson had reached out to Lott, but Lott was scared to take the call, asking Davis for advice. "But my question is: Will Reverend Jackson try to hurt me even further if I return his call?" Lott asked Davis. Davis assured him that Jackson wouldn't use the chat for political gain. With Davis at Jackson's side, the two did talk and then something "magic" happened, as Davis described it: Lott and Jackson prayed.

"This [was] so surreal, I'm thinking no one would believe this, I'm not making this up, so what do I do? I bowed my head," Davis told Yeas & Nays.

When Davis approached Lott to retell the tale, he says it wasn't such a tough sell. "It was not hard for me to convince him because he was ecstatic, 'Oh gosh, this is such a teaching moment, you've got to write about it,' " Davis recalled. "It's such a human story, I could almost hope there's a movie made about this chapter," he laughed. (Davis mentioned Dustin Hoffman as a suitable player for his part.)

Davis was feted for his new book in D.C. this week, and, just like his favorite chapter portrays, it was quite the bipartisan "political kumbaya." Attendees included his Purple Nation Solutions partner and former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

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