Bush meets with Hastert; keeps Lott at arm's length

White House (AP) - President Bush has been meeting with House Speaker Dennis Hastert -- while he continues to keep Trent Lott at arm's length.

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says the Hastert meeting was about next year's policy agenda.

But the spokesman wouldn't rule out a discussion of the Senate GOP leader's future.

Officially, the president has no advice for senators who've agreed to meet in January to decide Lott's future. But GOP leaders say lack of White House support could seal his fate.

Lott (pictured, above) has been on the defensive since praising Strom Thurmond's 1948 segregationist bid for the White House.

Fleischer says Bush doesn't think Lott should resign. However, he's repeatedly refused to amplify on that statement.

Meantime, the spokesman says Lott was not excluded from Tuesday's meeting for any political reason. He says it's just that Lott's in his native Mississippi, not Washington.

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