Bob Dole, a Republican stalwart of the U.S. Senate and pre-eminent figure in American politics, died on Sunday at age 98.
He lived a cinematic American story, rising from Depression-era dust bowl Kansas to the battlefields of World War Two – where he suffered devastating injuries, including the loss of use of his right arm - and rose to a commanding place in Washington’s halls of power.
Dole represented Kansas in Congress for 35 years: First from 1961 to 1969 in the House, then in the Senate for 27 years.
He ran for president three times - first 1980, but lost the GOP nomination to Ronald Reagan. He fell short again in ‘88, this time to then-Vice President George H.W. Bush – but not before a debate where Dole famously snapped at Bush to (quote), “Stop lying about my record.”
In 1996, Dole at last won the Republican nomination - but lost the election to Democratic incumbent Bill Clinton.
The following year Clinton awarded Dole the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.
Dole was also known for being a pragmatic conservative liked by both parties for his ability to work across the aisle.
Accepting his party’s nomination in ‘96, Dole said (quote), “I say that in politics honorable compromise is no sin. It is what protects us from absolutism and intolerance."
At the funeral of his former rival George H.W. Bush in 2018, Dole rose from his wheelchair with the help of an aide and lifted his left hand for a final salute.
In a statement, President Joe Biden fondly recalled visiting Dole in February, saying (quote), "Though we often disagreed, he never hesitated to work with me or other Democrats when it mattered most."
Dole announced earlier this year that he had been diagnosed with advanced with lung cancer and was seeking treatment.
In a statement, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation – established by his wife, also a former Senator – said that Dole died in his sleep, adding, “Bob Dole was never only ours – we shared him with Americans from every walk of life and political persuasion.”