Former US Republican Senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole have died in his sleep Sunday at the age of 98, it was reported.
“It is with heavy hearts we announce that Senator Robert Joseph Dole died early this morning in his sleep. At his death, at age 98, he had served the United States of America faithfully for 79 years. More information coming soon,” his wife's foundation announced on Twitter.
Dole overcame disabling war wounds to become a sharp-tongued Senate leader from Kansas in addition to a presidential candidate.
In February this year, the retired Senator announced he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. He had retired from politics after losing to Bill Clinton in November 1996.
In one of his final public appearances, Dole rose from his wheelchair to salute former President George H.W. Bush in December 2018 as he paid his respects to his fellow World War II vet and former political rival as the 41st president lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda. Bush had beaten out Dole for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 1988.
Dole was born in Russell, Kansas, on July 22, 1923. His father Doran Ray Dole ran a small creamery and his mother, Bina, sold sewing machines. He had one brother, Kenny, and two sisters, Gloria and Norma.
Dole, who was wounded in Italy in April 1945, was a longtime advocate for the rights of the disabled. As a 21-year-old platoon leader, he was trying to pull a radioman from the line of fire when he was struck in the upper back and right arm. He lost the use of his right arm and most of the feeling in his left.
For that sort of action, he received two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star with a “V” for valor.
He always carried a pen in his right hand to discourage people from trying to shake hands with him.
“Experiencing a disability yourself, you could almost walk around with a blindfold and pick out the other people with disabilities. … Having a disability changes your whole life, not just your attitude,” he had said in an interview with Disability magazine.
In 1990, as Senate Majority Leader he helped pass the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.
In 1950 he was voted into the Kansas House of Representatives, during which term he graduated from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, with a law degree. He then became the Russell County prosecuting attorney.
In 1960, he was elected into the US House of Representatives. In 1968 he became a Senator just when Richard Nixon won the presidential race. And a Senator he remained one election after another until he retired following his loss to Clinton.
He ran for president twice and once for vice president once.
President Gerald Ford picked him Dole as his running mate in 1976, the first presidential election after Nixon stepped down in 1974 in the wake of the Watergate scandal.
Democrat Jimmy Carter ran as a reformer on a ticket with Walter Mondale as his running mate.
Carter defeated Ford, winning the popular vote by a margin of 50.08 to 48.02 percent.
In 1980 he tried his luck in the Republican primaries but soon dropped out after finishing behind Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Howard Baker in New Hampshire.
Reagan eventually won the nomination and the election with Bush as his vice president.
In 1988, at the end of Reagan’s second term, Dole announced his candidacy during a ceremony in his Kansas hometown.
Dole started out strong, finishing ahead of Bush in the Iowa caucuses, but then lost to Bush in New Hampshire.
In his third run for president, in 1996, Dole teamed up with Jack Kemp, the former secretary of Housing and Urban Development, who set out to stop Clinton and Al Gore from winning a second term. After being reelected, Clinton awarded Dole the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a ceremony at the White House. “I had a dream that I would be, this historical week, receiving something from the president,” Dole said to the gathering. “But I thought it would be the front door key,” he joked.
After leaving office, Dole joined a Washington, DC, law firm, gave speeches, wrote several books and chaired the fund-raising effort for the National World War II Memorial.
In 2003, he opened the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, an organization focused on creating bipartisanship in politics.
Dole married Elizabeth Hanford in 1975. She had been Reagan’s Secretary of Transportation and later represented North Carolina in the US Senate from 2003 to 2009. He divorced his first wife, Phyllis Holden, in 1972. They had one child, Robin, who was born in October 1954.
Top CommentsDisclaimer & comment rules
Commenting for this story is now closed.
If you have a Facebook account, become a fan and comment on our Facebook Page!