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Bob Dole

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Bob Dole
Robert J. Dole.jpg
Official portrait, 1980s
Senate Majority Leader
In office
January 3, 1995 – June 11, 1996
PresidentBill Clinton
DeputyTrent Lott
Preceded byGeorge Mitchell
Succeeded byTrent Lott
In office
January 3, 1985 – January 3, 1987
PresidentRonald Reagan
DeputyAlan Simpson
Preceded byHoward Baker
Succeeded byRobert Byrd
Senate Minority Leader
In office
January 3, 1987 – January 3, 1995
DeputyAlan Simpson
Preceded byRobert Byrd
Succeeded byTom Daschle
Chair of the Republican National Committee
In office
January 15, 1971 – January 19, 1973
Preceded byRogers Morton
Succeeded byGeorge H. W. Bush
United States Senator
from Kansas
In office
January 3, 1969 – June 11, 1996
Preceded byFrank Carlson
Succeeded bySheila Frahm
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Kansas
In office
January 3, 1961 – January 3, 1969
Preceded byWint Smith
Succeeded byKeith Sebelius
Constituency6th district (1961–1963)
1st district (1963–1969)
Member of the Kansas House of Representatives
from the 81st district
In office
January 9, 1951 – January 13, 1953
Preceded byElmo J. Mahoney
Succeeded byR. C. Williams
Personal details
Born
Robert Joseph Dole

(1923-07-22)July 22, 1923
Russell, Kansas, U.S.
DiedDecember 5, 2021(2021-12-05) (aged 98)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Cause of deathLung cancer
Resting placeArlington National Cemetery
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)
Phyllis Holden
(m. 1948; div. 1972)

Children1
EducationWashburn University (BA, LLB)
Signature
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1942–1948
RankUS-O6 insignia.svg Colonel
Unit10th Mountain Division
Battles/warsWorld War II (WIA)
AwardsBronze Star
Purple Heart
Other offices

Robert Joseph Dole (July 22, 1923 – December 5, 2021) was an American politician and lawyer. He was the United States Senator from Kansas between 1969 and 1996. He was a member of the Republican Party. He was the Republican Leader of the United States Senate from 1985 until 1996. Before his senate career, he was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1961 to 1969. Dole was the Republican nominee for Vice President in the 1976 election and for President in the 1996 election.

Dole was born and raised in Russell, Kansas, where he began with a legal career. He was in the United States Army during World War II. He was the Russell County Attorney for a short time until he won election to the House of Representatives in 1960. In 1968, Dole was elected to the Senate. He was chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1971 to 1973 and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee from 1981 to 1985. He was the Senate Majority Leader from 1985 to 1987 and from 1995 to 1996.

President Gerald Ford chose Dole as his running mate in the 1976 election after Vice President Nelson Rockefeller did not want to be Ford's vice president. Ford lost the election to Democrat Jimmy Carter in the general election. Dole ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980 but quickly dropped out of the race. He ran again for the nomination in the 1988 Republican primaries but lost to Vice President George H. W. Bush. Dole won the Republican nomination in 1996, however lost in the general election to President Bill Clinton. He resigned from the Senate during the 1996 campaign and did not run for public office again after the election.

After retiring from the Senate, Dole appeared in commercials and television programs. In 2012, Dole wanted the Senate to pass the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which did not happen. Dole was a member of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. He also worked for the law firm Alston & Bird.[1] On January 17, 2018, Dole was honored with the Congressional Gold Medal. He was married to former U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina.

Early life[change | change source]

Dole was born on July 22, 1923, in Russell, Kansas.[2] His parents were Bina M. (née Talbott; 1904–1983) and Doran Ray Dole (1901–1975).[3][4] His family lived in a house at 1035 North Maple in Russell.[2] Dole himself lived here during his political career.[2]

Dole graduated from Russell High School in the spring of 1941.[5] He went to the University of Kansas.[6] While at the University of Kansas, Dole played for the basketball team, the track team, and the football team.[6][7] In 1942 he was a teammate of former Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams.[8] While in college, Dole joined Kappa Sigma.[9]

During his college years, Dole joined the United States Army during World War II in 1942.[10] In April 1945, while in combat near Castel d'Aiano southwest of Bologna, Italy, Dole was seriously wounded by Nazis.[11] He was shot in his upper back and right arm.[11] He was injured because he tried to help a radioman.[9][12] His recovery was slow because he had many health problems caused by his injuries.[9] Dole recovered from his injuries and was honored with two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star.[9][12] He was unable to move his right arm and had numbness in his left arm.[12]

Dole later went to the University of Arizona from 1948 to 1949, before transferring to Washburn University.[13] He graduated with both undergraduate and law degrees in 1952.[13]

Early political career[change | change source]

Dole ran for office for the first time in 1950 and was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives.[14] In 1952, he became the County Attorney of Russell County.[15] In 1960, Dole was elected to the United States House of Representatives from Kansas' 6th congressional district.[16] After his first term, Kansas lost a congressional district.[16] Most of Dole's district was added with the 2nd district to create a new 1st district.[16] Dole was elected from this district in 1962 and was reelected two more times.[16]

During his time as a U.S. Representative, Dole voted in favor of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968.[17][18] He also voted for the Voting Rights Act of 1965.[19]

U.S. Senate, 1969–1996[change | change source]

In 1968, Dole won the United States Senate election against former Kansas Governor William H. Avery.[20] He ran to replace Senator Frank Carlson.[21][20] Dole was re-elected in 1974, 1980, 1986, and 1992.[22]

While in the Senate, Dole was a strong supporter of the Vietnam War.[23] He attacked Democratic Senator George McGovern for not supporting the war.[23] He was chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1971 until 1973.[24] He was also on the Agriculture Committee from 1975 until 1978.[25] He was the chairman of the Finance Committee from 1981 until 1985.[26] In November 1984, Dole was elected Senate Majority leader, beating Ted Stevens by 28 to 25 votes.[27]

A congressional photo of Dole, 1979

In 1976, Dole was the Republican vice presidential nominee after being picked by President Gerald Ford.[28] During the Vice Presidential debate with Walter Mondale, Dole said blamed all the wars in the 20th century to Democrats.[28]

Over his time in the Senate, Dole was seen by some as having a moderate voting record.[29] This meant, he sometimes voted with the Democrats.[29] During the 1970s, he worked with Senator McGovern to help pass a law making food stamps easier to get.[30] In 1982, The New York Times saw that Dole changed from being a strict conservative to a moderate Republican.[31]

From 1992 to 1996, Dole had an important role in getting support for Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Senate.[32] This forced the Clinton administration and NATO to end the Bosnian War.[32]

The Republicans won both the Senate and House of Representatives in 1994 and Dole became Senate Majority Leader for the second time.[33]

In October 1995, Dole and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich led the Republican-controlled Congress to pass a spending bill.[34] President Clinton vetoed this bill.[34] More disagreements between the Clinton administration and Republicans caused the federal government shutdown from 1995 to 1996.[34] The next month, Republican and Democratic leaders, including Vice President Al Gore, Dick Armey, and Dole, met to try to fix the budget and were unable to reach an agreement.[35] By January 1996, Dole was more open to talk about ending the shutdown, but was not supported by other Republicans who wanted the shutdown to continue.[34] Gingrich and Dole had a hard time working together.[36] Many people thought that both of them might want to run for the 1996 Republican presidential nomination.[36]

In a January 1996 address, during the shutdown, President Bill Clinton said that Dole was a good lawmaker for "working together in good faith" to reopen the government.[37]

In June 1996, Dole resigned from the Senate to focus on his presidential campaign because he was the Republican Party's presidential nominee for the 1996 election.[38]

Presidential politics[change | change source]

Dole with his wife Elizabeth Dole and President Gerald Ford at a campaign rally in Kansas

Dole first ran for President of the United States in 1980 for the Republican nomination.[39] He finished behind Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and four others in Iowa and New Hampshire, winning only 2.5% and 0.4% of votes in those races.[39] Dole ended his campaign after New Hampshire and officially left the race on March 15, 1980.[40]

Dole announced his second campaign in 1988 on November 9, 1987.[41] Dole started out strongly by beating Vice President George H. W. Bush in the Iowa caucus.[42]

However, Bush would beat Dole in the New Hampshire primary a week later.[43] During the New Hampshire primaries, Dole lost his temper in a television interview with Tom Brokaw and said that Bush should "stop lying about my record".[44] He said this because he did not like a Bush commercial which lied about Dole's tax ideas.[44]

Dole lost to Bush again in South Carolina in early March.[45] Several days later, every southern state voted for Bush during Super Tuesday.[45] He eventually lost Illinois to Bush and afterwards dropped out of the race.[45]

1996 presidential campaign[change | change source]

Dole with President Bill Clinton at the first presidential debate in October 1996

On April 10, 1995, Dole announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president, in his third campaign for the presidency.[46] Dole was the early front-runner for the nomination.[47] At least eight candidates ran for the nomination, such as the more conservative Senator Phil Gramm of Texas and more moderate Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.[47] Pat Buchanan beat Dole in the early New Hampshire primary.[48] Dole came in second place and former Tennessee governor Lamar Alexander finished third.[48] Many believed that Dole was not doing good at first because he was not "conservative enough".[49]

Dole eventually won the nomination in May after winning all the Midwestern primaries.[47] At the time, he was the oldest first-time presidential nominee at the age of 73 years.[50] If elected, he would have been the oldest president to take office at the time.[50]

Dole hoped to use his long experience in Senate to help him beat an incumbent president.[38][51] On June 11, 1996, Dole resigned from the senate to focus on the campaign.[38] He said he had "nowhere to go but the White House or home".[38]

1996 election electoral results by state.
  Bill Clinton (379)
  Bob Dole (159)

Dole promised to lower 15% in income tax rates and made former Congressman and supply side supporter Jack Kemp his running mate for vice president.[52][53] Clinton said Dole was similar to the then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich.[54] He warned that Dole would work with the Republican Congress to cut popular social programs, like Medicare and Social Security.[54] Dole's tax-cut plan was attacked by the White House.[55] They said it would "blow a hole in the deficit".[55]

Some people were worried about Dole's age.[50] On September 18, 1996 at a rally in Chico, California, he was reaching down to shake the hand of a supporter, when the railing on the stage broke and he fell four feet.[50][56] Many compared the fall between Dole to a younger Clinton.[56][57]

At the end of October 1996, Dole and his advisers knew that they would lose the election, but in the last four days of the campaign they went on the "96-hour victory tour" to help Republican Congressional candidates.[58]

Dole lost to President Clinton, with a 379–159 Electoral College landslide.[59] Clinton won 49.2% of the vote against Dole's 40.7% and Ross Perot's 8.4%.[59] Many believe that the strong economy during Clinton's first term helped the president win a second term.[60]

Retirement[change | change source]

Dole at the White House with President George W. Bush in April 2005

After the 1996 election, Dole began to focus on writing, being a lawyer, public speaking, and television appearances.[61] He became a television commercial spokesman for Viagra, Visa, Dunkin' Donuts and Pepsi-Cola.[62][63] He was also a political commentator on the interview program Larry King Live.[64] He was a guest many times on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.[65] Dole was a commentator with Bill Clinton on CBS's 60 Minutes for a short time.[66] He was on Saturday Night Live making fun of himself.[67]

From 1998 to 2002, Dole was in charge of the Federal City Council in Washington, D.C.[68] Dole later joined the Washington, D.C. firm Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand, where he became a lobbyist.[69][70] Dole joined the Washington, D.C. law and lobbying firm Alston & Bird LLP.[70]

Dole worked for many voluntary organizations.[70] He was national chairman of the World War II Memorial Campaign,[70] which collected money to help build the National World War II Memorial.[69] He also worked with former President Clinton on the Families of Freedom Foundation. This was a scholarship fund to pay for college educations for the families of 9/11 victims.[71]

In 2007, President George W. Bush picked Dole and Donna Shalala as co-chairs of the commission to investigate problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.[72][73] Also in 2007, Dole joined former Senate majority leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, and George Mitchell to create the Bipartisan Policy Center for bipartisan support.[74]

On December 4, 2012, Dole spoke in the Senate to support ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. However, Republicans rejected the bill.[75]

Trump presidency[change | change source]

In 2015, Dole supported former Florida governor Jeb Bush in his presidential campaign.[76] After Bush ended his campaign following the South Carolina primary, Dole supported Florida senator Marco Rubio's campaign.[76] During the campaign, Dole criticized Texas senator Ted Cruz, saying he would not win an election.[77] Dole later supported Donald Trump after Trump won the Republican nomination.[78] He was the only former Republican presidential nominee to go to the 2016 Republican National Convention.[79]

Former Dole advisers, including Paul Manafort, played a major role in Trump's presidential campaign.[79] After Trump won the 2016 election, Dole worked with the Trump campaign and presidential transition team to set up meetings with the government of Taiwan.[80]

Dole was worried that the Commission on Presidential Debates were biased against President Trump and his reelection campaign.[81] He said how he knew all the Republicans on the commission and was afraid that "none of them support[ed]" the president.[81] After Trump lost the election, Trump made false claims about voter fraud.[82] Trump said that the election was stolen and tried to overturn the election results.[82] Dole did not agree with Trump and said there was no fraud in the many lawsuits that Trump claimed there was.[82]

Personal life[change | change source]

Bob and Elizabeth Dole in December 1997

Dole married Phyllis Holden in 1948, three months after they met.[83] The couple only had one daughter, Robin.[84] Dole and Holden divorced January 11, 1972.[83] Dole met his second wife, Elizabeth, in 1972.[85] The couple were married in 1975 and had no children.[85]

Dole was a Freemason.[86][87][88] He was known for speaking to himself in the third person.[89][90]

Health and death[change | change source]

President Joe Biden honoring Dole as his casket lies in state at the United States Capitol, December 2021

After prostate surgery, Dole had erectile dysfunction and made a public service announcement speaking up about it.[91] In 2001, Dole, at age 77, was treated for an aortic aneurysm.[92]

In January 2005, Dole had bleeding inside his head.[93] Dole spent 40 days at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the bleeding left him with mobility problems.[93]

In February 2010, Dole was hospitalized for pneumonia after having knee surgery.[94] He spent ten months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, recovering from the surgery.[95] He had pneumonia three times.[95] He was released from the hospital in November 2010.[95] In January 2011, however, Dole was hospitalized again to Walter Reed Army Medical Center.[95] He spent about six days there, being treated for a fever and an infection.[95]

Dole was hospitalized in November 2012 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.[96] On September 13, 2017, Dole was hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for low blood pressure.[97] He stayed for 24 hours before returning home.[98]

In February 2021, Dole announced he was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.[99] In July 2021, he began getting immunotherapy, instead of chemotherapy because of its negative effects on his body.[82] Dole died from the disease in his sleep on the morning of December 5, 2021 at his home in Washington, D.C. at the age of 98.[100][101]

After his death, many politicians honored Dole.[102] President Joe Biden ordered flags be flown at half-staff until December 11.[103][104] Dole lay in state at the U.S. Capitol on December 9.[105] He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.[106]

Awards and honors[change | change source]

Dole being honored with the Congressional Gold Medal in January 2018

In 1989, Dole was presented with the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Ronald Reagan.[107] In 1997, he was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton for his service in the military and his political career.[108]

In 1997, Dole received the U.S. Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official.[109]

For his lobbying work during and after the Kosovo War, Albanian President Bujar Nishani awarded Dole Albania's highest civilian honor, the National Flag Order medal in 2017.[110]

On January 17, 2018, Dole was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his service to the nation as a "soldier, legislator and statesman".[9]

In 2019, the United States Congress passed a bill promoting the 95-year-old Dole from captain to colonel for his service during World War II.[111][112]

More readings[change | change source]

  • Ceaser, James W.; Busch, Andrew E. (1997). Losing to Win: The 1996 Elections and American Politics. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0-8476-8405-9.
  • Clinton, Bill (2005). My Life. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 1-4000-3003-X.
  • Denton, Robert E. Jr. (1998). The 1996 Presidential Campaign: A Communication Perspective. Westport: Praeger. ISBN 0-275-95681-4.
  • Elovitz, Paul (1996). "Work, Laughter and Tears: Bob Dole's Childhood, War Injury, the Conservative Republicans and the 1996 Election". Journal of Psychohistory. 24 (2): 147–162. ISSN 0145-3378.
  • Immelman, Aubrey. "The political personalities of 1996 U.S. presidential candidates Bill Clinton and Bob Dole." Leadership Quarterly 9.3 (1998): 335-366. online
  • Shenk, Joshua Wolf (July 1996). "The Best and Worst of Bob Dole". Washington Monthly. 28.
  • Tymchuk, Kerry; Wertheimer, Molly Meijer; Gutgold, Nichola D. (2004). Elizabeth Hanford Dole: Speaking from the Heart. Westport: Praeger. ISBN 0-275-98378-1.

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