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Frist, a surgeon, in running for GOP leader

Sen. Bill Frist
Sen. Bill Frist

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• Gallery: Reactions
• Profile: Bill Frist
• Timeline: Fall of a Leader
• Timeline: Trent Lott's Career
  • Age 50, elected in 1994
  • Leadership: Outgoing chairman, National Republican Senatorial Committee
  • Committees: Budget; Foreign Relations; and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
  • Key issues: Health care and welfare reform

    Sources: The Almanac Of American Politics; Congressional offices
    Did Sen. Trent Lott do the right thing in stepping down as GOP leader?


    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, seen as a likely successor to Sen. Trent Lott as Senate majority leader, is the first sitting senator since 1928 to be a practicing surgeon.

    The 50-year-old senator's resume is far from average. Before he was first elected to the Senate in 1994, Frist founded and directed the internationally renowned Vanderbilt Transplant Center for multi-organ transplants.

    His education includes an undergraduate degree from Princeton University specializing in health care policy followed by a medical degree with honors from Harvard Medical School, according to the senator's Web site.

    Frist's extensive background in the study and practice of health care and policy has contributed to Frist's apparent interest in health care legislation.

    According to his Web site, Frist is against so-called partial birth abortion, saying that he disagrees with supporters who say the procedure is necessary to save the lives of some mothers while giving birth.

    Earlier this year, Frist traveled throughout Africa to learn more about the continent's AIDS/HIV epidemic and how to fight it.

    His Web site says he opposes the use of cloning of humans and favors strengthening the U.S. military.

    In early December, Frist promised to begin the next session of Congress by working toward Medicare reform. "We must make the changes needed to modernize and strengthen the Medicare program, ensure adequate reimbursement to providers who serve Medicare patients, and provide seniors and disabled Americans with access to affordable prescription drug coverage," a Frist statement said.

    In June, Frist attended the White House signing ceremony of legislation he originally sponsored: a bill aimed at fighting bio-terrorism. Its aim was to establish new programs to protect the nation from health threats by "terrorists and foreign nations utilizing biological and chemical weapons," according to his Web site.

    Frist also serves as vice chairman of the Alliance for Health Care Reform, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that works toward providing all Americans with affordable health care coverage.

    In July 1998, Frist used his medical training to help two shooting victims of a gunman who opened fire in the U.S. Capitol. Frist also reportedly gave the shooting suspect cardiopulmonary respiration and rode in the ambulance with him as he was taken to a Washington hospital. The shooting left two U.S. Capitol Police officers dead.

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