Senate leader, presidential candidate Bob Dole dies at 98

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Bob Dole, who overcame the wounds of war, became a sharp-tongued Senate leader from Kansas, a Republican presidential candidate, and then a symbol and celebration of a dwindling generation of World War II veterans Gone, died. He was 98 years old.

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His wife, Elizabeth Dole, posted the announcement on Twitter on Sunday.

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Dole announced in February 2021 that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. During his 36-year career on Capitol Hill, Dole became one of the most influential legislators and party leaders in the Senate, combining a talent for compromise with a caustic wit, which he often turned to himself but others. Didn’t hesitate to turn on, too.

During his 36-year career on Capitol Hill, Dole became one of the most influential legislators and party leaders in the Senate, combining a talent for compromise with a caustic wit, which he often turned to himself but others. Didn’t hesitate to turn on, too.

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They shaped tax policy, foreign policy, agricultural and nutrition programs and the rights of the disabled, the Americans with Disabilities Act providing protection against discrimination in employment, education, and public services.

Today’s accessible government offices and national parks, sidewalk ramps and sign language interpreters at official local events are some of the more visible hallmarks of his legacy and fellow lawmakers rounded up for that sweeping civil rights legislation 30 years ago.

Dole devoted his later years to the memory of wounded veterans, their fallen comrades at Arlington National Cemetery, and a fading generation of World War II veterinarians.

Thousands of veterans massed on the National Mall in 2004, which Dole called “our final reunion” while speaking at the dedication of the World War II memorial. He has been a driving force in its creation.

“Our ranks have dropped,” he said then. “Yet if we gather at twilight it is illuminated by the knowledge that we have placed faith with our companions.”

Long moved away from Kansas, Dole made his living in the capital, at the center of power, and then in his shadow upon his retirement, all the while living in the storied Watergate complex. When he left politics and joined a law firm staffed by prominent Democrats, he joked that he brought his dog to work so he had another Republican to talk to.

He tried three times to become president. The last time was in 1996, when he won the Republican nomination only to see President Bill Clinton re-elected. He sought his party’s presidential nomination in 1980 and 1988 and was the 1976 GOP vice presidential nominee on the losing ticket with President Gerald Ford.

Through all this he left the impression of war. Charging a German position in northern Italy in 1945, Dole was struck by a fragment of a shell that crushed two vertebrae and left his arms and legs paralyzed. The young army platoon leader spent three years recovering in the hospital and never used his right hand.

To avoid embarrassing those who tried to move his right hand, Dole always held a pen in it and passed out with his left hand.

Dole can be ruthless with his rivals, whether Democrats or Republicans. When George H. W. Bush defeated him in the 1988 New Hampshire Republican primary, Dole said: “Stop lying about my record.” If this blatant insult happens in today’s political arena, it was shocking at that time.

But when Bush died in December 2018, the old rivalry was forgotten as Dole appeared in front of Bush’s coffin at the Capital Rotunda. As a colleague lifted her from her wheelchair, a sick and grieving Dole slowly stabilized herself and saluted her one-time nemesis with her left hand, her chin trembling.

In a vice presidential debate with Walter Mondale two decades earlier, Dole famously and audaciously branded all of America’s wars in that century as “Democratic Wars.” Mondale shot back that Dole had “earned his reputation as a crooked man.”

Dole at first refused to say what he had just said in that public forum, then backtracked, and eventually admitted that he had gone too far. “I had to go for the hug,” he said, “and I did—my own.”

For all his bare-knuckle ways, he was a deep believer in the Senate as an institution and commanded respect and even affection from many Democrats. Just days after Dole announced his serious cancer diagnosis, President Joe Biden visited her at his home to wish him well. The White House said the two were close friends since their days in the Senate.

Dole won a seat in Congress in 1960, representing a western Kansas House district. He moved to the Senate eight years later when Republican incumbent Frank Carlson retired.

There, he confronted his Senate colleagues with fiercely partisan and satirical rhetoric at the behest of President Richard Nixon. Kanson was rewarded for his loyalty with the presidency of the Republican National Committee in 1971, before the fall of Nixon’s presidency in the Watergate scandal.

He served as chairman of a committee, majority leader, and minority leader in the Senate during the 1980s and 90s. Overall, he was the leader of Republicans in the Senate for nearly 11 1/2 years, a record until Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2018. It was during this period that he earned a reputation as a shrewd, practical legislator, tireless in making compromises.

After Republicans won Senate control, Dole became chairman of the tax-writing finance committee and received praise from Deficit Hawks and others for her handling of the 1982 tax bill, in which she helped Ronald Reagan’s White House increase revenue by $100 billion. agreed to go along. To reduce the federal budget deficit.

But some more conservative Republicans were puzzled that Dole had insisted on higher taxes. Georgia Representative Newt Gingrich called him a “tax collector for the welfare state.”

Dole became leader of the Senate in 1985 and served as either majority or minority leader, depending on which party was in charge, until he resigned in 1996 to devote himself to the pursuit of the presidency. not given.

That campaign, Dole’s last, was fraught with problems from the start. They ran out of money in the spring, and Democratic ads portrayed GOP candidate and the party’s divisive House speaker, Gingrich, with the same brush: as a Republican to eliminate Medicare. Clinton won by a large margin.

He also faced questions about his age as he was running for president at age 73 – before Biden was elected in 2020 at the age of 78.

Moved into private life, Dooley became an elder statesman who helped Clinton pass a chemical-weapons treaty. He also fulfilled the political ambitions of his wife. Elizabeth Dooley ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, then served one term as a senator from North Carolina.

Dole introduced himself to the public as a degraded pitchman for the anti-impotence drug Viagra and other products.

He also continued to comment on issues and support political candidates.

In 2016, Dole initially endorsed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for the GOP presidential nomination. He later warmed to Donald Trump and eventually backed him.

But six weeks after the 2020 election, Trump still refuses to acknowledge and promote baseless claims of voter fraud, with Dole telling The Kansas City Star, “the election is over.”

He added: “It’s a very bitter pill for Trump, but it’s a truth he lost sight of.”

In September 2017, Congress voted to award Dole his highest expression, the Congressional Gold Medal, for distinguished contribution to the nation. That came a decade after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Congress honored Dole again in 2019 by promoting him from army captain to colonel, in recognition of military service that earned him two Purple Hearts.

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