updated 10/17/2006 2:49:18 PM ET 2006-10-17T18:49:18

U.S. Sen. Bill Frist on Monday defended his decision to fight judicial filibusters and predicted Republicans will keep control of the Senate during a speech at Texas A&M University.

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The Tennessee Republican addressed students during a public affairs forum hosted by former President George H.W. Bush.

Frist, who took office in 1994 and is the Senate majority leader, fought last year against Democrats' use of filibusters to block President George W. Bush's nominees for appeals court judges.

Republicans threatened to use a procedural vote to change Senate rules to eliminate filibusters on judicial nominees, a tactic known as the "nuclear option." But the two sides brokered an agreement under which Democrats said the filibuster would only be used in "extraordinary circumstances."

2006 key races

A&M graduate student Wendy Dye asked whether Frist used diplomacy before threatening to change the rules.

Frist said he "fully exhausted the entire spectrum of diplomacy," the Bryan-College Station Eagle reported in its Tuesday editions.

Regarding the Nov. 7 election, Frist said Republicans "will likely lose seats, but we will not lose majority control."

Frist, who plans to retire from the Senate at the end of this year, predicted that Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, will be the next majority leader.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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