Old soldier, Senator Bob Dole, 1923-2021

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Former Senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole of Kansas died on Dec. 5, 2021. He was 98.

Dole had served in the U.S. Senate from 1968 to 1996, and had been Senate president for the last 11 years of his tenure.

Dole won the Republican nomination for president in 1996 and chose Jack Kemp as his running mate. They lost in the general election to then-President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.

Earlier in Alaska that year, Dole finished third behind Patrick J. Buchanan and Steve Forbes, in the Republican presidential straw poll.

Dole had earlier run for president in 1988, and in Alaska lost a straw poll in the Republican caucus to televangelist Pat Robertson and then Vice President George H. W. Bush. Ultimately, Bush won the nomination of the Republican Party that year, and he lost to Bill Clinton.

Dole was the running mate for President Gerald Ford in 1976 after Vice President Nelson Rockefeller withdrew from the race. The Ford-Dole ticket lost to Democrat Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale that year.

Dole was also the chairman of the Republican National Committee during the 1970s.

Before his political life and his career as an attorney, Dole was a World War II veteran who was badly wounded in combat in Italy. He nearly died from his wounds received from a German shell near Bologna, and only lived due to the use of an experimental drug, streptomycin, which reduced his severe infections and 109-degree fever. His right arm and shoulder were rendered useless, so he learned to write with his left hand, and often used his right hand to hold a pen.

Dole was married to the Elizabeth Dole, who served in several presidential administrations and who was a U.S. senator for one term, representing North Carolina. Dole died in his sleep on Dec. 5, according to the Elizabeth Dole Foundation.

Learn more about Dole’s 79 years of service to the country at this link.

In 2006, Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens offered a tribute to Dole on the floor of the Senate, noting that he and Dole were the only remaining members of the “class of 1968” when Dole resigned from the Senate in 1996:

TRIBUTE TO SENATOR ROBERT DOLE

  Mr. STEVENS. Mr. President, yesterday, we honored our colleague, 
Senator Robert Byrd, for achieving an important milestone in our 
Senate's history. Today, we come to the floor to pay tribute to another 
man who stands out as a giant among those who have served in this 
Chamber. Senator Bob Dole, last Sunday, marked the 10-year anniversary 
of his retirement from the Senate.
  Bob Dole and I came to the Senate at the same time. We have worked 
together a great deal. When I was Republican whip and he was our 
party's Vice Presidential nominee, I was asked to help him prepare for 
his debate when he debated Walter Mondale--the first Vice Presidential 
debate in history.
  Bob helped us pass the Alaskan Native Land Claims Settlement Act, 
which paved the way for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. And he supported the 
Alaska Lands Act and the Alaska Railroad Transfer. In short, Bob Dole 
is a great personal friend, a friend to me and to Alaska.
  Bob was--and still is--a leader in the truest sense of the word. 
Whenever I think of Bob Dole, I think of the great many men I have 
known who were tested in World War II. Like my good friend Senator 
Inouye, Bob Dole is a true war hero. He was tested in war and injured 
and struggled back through a long recovery. Like all great leaders, Bob 
takes great challenges of life and uses them to improve the world 
around him.
  Having been injured in World War II, he dedicated much of his time in 
public service to improving the opportunities for disabled Americans.
  Those of us in the Senate who were fortunate enough to call Bob a 
colleague for 27 years, chose him to serve as our leader six times, 
when we were in the majority and the minority. He reached out to those 
who disagreed with him. He listened to advice. You never had to ask him 
twice to know where he stood; his word was--and is--his bond. As 
President Reagan said:

       His title of leader is not just a job title, it's a 
     description of the man.

  I think Bob's decision to resign his seat rather than stay in the 
Senate and campaign for the Presidency demonstrates what a devoted 
public servant he is. I have now been in the Senate over 30 years, and 
I have seen Members of this body run for President and miss vote after 
vote because they were on the road campaigning.
  Bob Dole loved the people of Kansas too much to leave them without a
voice in the Senate, so he resigned. I believe that took great courage. 
If there is one thing about Bob Dole that there is no shortage of, it 
is courage. Bob himself said, when he resigned from the Senate:

       One of the qualities of American politics that 
     distinguishes us from other nations is that we judge our 
     politicians as much by the manner by which they leave office 
     as by the vigor with which they pursue it. You do not lay 
     claim to the office you hold, it lays claim to you. Your 
     obligation is to bring to it the gifts you can of labor and 
     honesty and then to depart with grace.

  By his own standards, Bob Dole stands out as one of the most noble 
and dignified men who ever graced these Halls.
  Senator Dole did not win the 1996 Presidential election, but his 
commitment to public service has not wavered. He still contributes to 
the public debate through his writing and speaking, and he has remained 
active on the campaign trail. We have been fortunate that since his 
retirement another Dole has joined this Chamber--his wife, Senator 
Elizabeth Dole, who serves the people of North Carolina and our Nation, 
also, with great distinction.
  When Senator Dole resigned from the Senate 10 years ago to run for 
President, he and I were the only remaining Members of the class of 
1968. We have a bond that was forged on the morning of January 3, 1969, 
when we each took the oath to serve our country in the Senate. That 
bond never fades, and I salute his service today.

16 COMMENTS

  1. I’ll always remember Dole, when he was considering his run for president, introducing a bill to limit liability of the EXXON-Valdez spill by making his bill retroactive to before EV oil spill.
    Ted Stevens shot it down but likely EXXON promised Dole a few bucks to introduce that.

  2. Being from Kansas, Bob was my guy. War hero in the 10th mountain division during WW2, came home shot up, ran for office. Married a sweet lady in Liz Dole. Survived prostate cancer. Was even in a super bowl commercial. Great American.

    • Takes a Great American to attempt to screw over a bunch of fishermen to placate one of the largest corporations in the world, eh. Sorry but he showed his true colors to me.

        • It’s all about EXXON money for Bob Dole. This was years after the spill but that bill specifically made those limits retroactive to EV. The fishermen were entitled to punitive damages by the Court. Because you say you know folks that weren’t negatively effected by EV-put up or shut up.
          Ted Steven recognized the asinine position of Dole and shut it down pronto.

          • I want more than you’ve given, that’s for sure. How would you know a thing about their “making bank” or their financial situation unless you handled their tax returns? There were a few fishermen and others that made very good money working on the spill but that has nothing to do with your comment IMO.
            How about at least giving some background on these folks and the amounts of “making bank” you speak of??

    • Agreed. Now is not the time for civility among, or more importantly WITH the political class—but back when it was the order of the day, and amongst the unity of purpose shared by many in DC around existential threats, Dole was the model of civil discourse. He’s also a war hero, from a time when we fought wars that had a purpose we could all easily understand. Truly, the last of his breed.

  3. It was a German machine gun that fired a burst into Doles shoulder and arm. The damage was so great that the Army surgeons wanted to take his right arm off but he refused to allow them to do so, and being an officer they had to respect his decision. He was 20 years old when wounded.

  4. Bob Dole was a true war hero who received severe wounds during his combat service in WWII. He was a life long Republican who served the party in various positions. He also served Kansas as it’s Senator for many years. Mr. Dole was widely respected for his honesty and integrity.

    Interestingly, at the 1996 Republican Convention, Dole’s wife, Elizabeth, introduced him to the crowd because he was such an unknown. The campaign struggled to get name recognition against a popular incumbent President despite hard work. Some complained that Dole was on the ticket because it was ‘his turn’. At any rate, President Clinton won re-election easily.

    • Thanks to Ross Perot, Bob Dole even got a chance to run against slick Willy. Had Perot not stolen half of the Republican vote, dad Bush would have beat Clinton like a rented mule. Then we would have had back-to-back Bush presidencies. But all things happen for a reason. Without Clinton we wouldn’t have had 911. Multiple people wouldn’t have shot themselves in the back of the head at night in a park. Monica’s blue dress would have just gone out for dry cleaning. Hillary would have never gotten the chance to steal the White House’s silverware. The steel dossier never would have happened because it was instigated by the clintons. Yeah thanks to Ross Perot he sure did a lot of history changing and some not for the better. As a result, the Doles were known as America’s royalty.

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