Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., the guest speaker last night at a $250-a-ticket fund-raiser for Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, urged her not to play it safe and to make a run for the Senate next year.
Lott said that in 1988, he gave up the safe House seat he had held for 16 years and risked his career in what turned out to be a successful run for the Senate.
"Maryland needs a tough, aggressive . . . member of Congress looking to the Senate," he told about 350 people at a dinner at the Sheraton Hotel in Towson. "Give her a promotion. . . ."
Bentley, R-2nd, has served in the House since 1984, when she unseated Democrat Clarence D. Long.
Bentley has said she will run for the seat now held by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., if during redistricting the 2nd, which includes most of Baltimore County and some of Harford County, is combined with fellow Republican Wayne Gilchrist's 1st District, which covers the Eastern Shore, Southern Maryland and part of Harford.
If that does not happen, she has said she will likely run for re-election to the House.
"Nothing is clear-cut at this point," Bentley said. She said she raised about $100,000 at the affair.
She praised Lott to the crowd as a Republican loyalist who defended President Richard M. Nixon during the Watergate impeachment crisis.
Lott said more Republican lawmakers would help President Bush achieve the Republican vision for the United States -- strong anti-crime measures, more nuclear power and oil exploration, and "to keep the clean-air bill from getting out of control."
On crime, Lott said: "The Democrats want to control your guns. In Washington, we've got very strong gun control laws -- and tail gunners on bread trucks." He praised Bush's crime-control bill, which emphasizes law enforcement and punishment.