Following the announcement of former Senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole’s passing on Sunday, tributes started to pour in from both sides of the aisle.
In a statement, President Joe Biden remembered the times he shared with Dole, who died on Sunday from lung cancer at the age of 98.
‘A month after being sworn in as president, one of the first conversations I had with anyone outside the White House was with our dear friends, Bob and Elizabeth Dole, at their home in Washington.
‘Bob had recently been diagnosed with lung cancer and I was there to offer the same support, love and encouragement that they showed me and Jill when our son Beau battled cancer.
‘Like all true friendships, regardless of how much time has passed, we picked up right where we left off, as though it were only yesterday that we were sharing a laugh in the Senate dining room or debating the great issues of the day, often against each other on the Senate floor.
‘I saw in his eyes, the same light, brave and determination I’ve seen so many times before,’ Biden said, noting that although they often disagreed, Dole was always willing to work with Democrats on some of his landmark legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act, creating a federal holiday for Martin Luther King Kr. and providing school meals and food for nursing mothers and their young children.
‘Bob was an American statesman like few in our history, a war hero and among the greatest of the Greatest Generation,’ Biden continued, ‘and to me, he was also a friend whom I could look to for trusted guidance, or a humorous line at just the right moment to settle frayed nerves.
‘Bob was a man to be admired by Americans,’ he wrote. ‘He had an unerring sense of integrity and honor.
‘May God bless him and may our nation draw upon his legacy of decency, dignity, good humor and patriotism for all time.’
Bob Dole, a former Senator and Republican presidential candidate, died on Sunday at the age of 98 after months of battling lung cancer
His colleagues remember him for working across the aisle to get legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act and the McGovern-Dole International Food Program passed. He is seen here makin a speech to his supporters as he announced his run for president in 1995
Senator Mitch McConnell also wrote in a statement: ‘Bob’s lifetime of service was rooted in a simple mission: looking out for his neighbors.
‘At first that meant serving his customers at a soda fountain in Russell, Kansas. Then it meant heroic, devoted service with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division in World War II; brutal fighting from which Bob barely made it home.
‘And then came a remarkable career in public service, capped off by nearly 30 years in the US Senate and more than a decade as a Republican leader.
‘Senate Republicans and the entire Senate were better off for Bob’s stewardship,’ McConnell claimed. ‘But more importantly, his beloved Kansas and the entire nation reaped huge rewards for his service.
‘Bob was a steady leader and a legislative master,’ McConnell continued. ‘He unlocked both conservative victories and big bipartisan achievements.
‘His Dust Bowl roots fueled a special commitment to vulnerable Americans, and sure enough, Bob’s work on food security, veterans’ issues and the rights of disabled Americans have continued to have an especially lasting impact.
‘Whatever their politics, anyone who saw Bob Dole in action had to admire his character and his profound patriotism,’ he continued. ‘Those of us who were lucky to know Bob well ourselves admired him even more.
‘A bright light of patriotic good cheer burned all the way from Bob’s teenage combat heroics through his whole career in Washington through the years since.
‘It still shone brightly, undimmed to his last days,’ McConnell concluded, noting: ‘Bob Dole lived the kind of full, rich and deeply honorable American life that will be impossible for any tribute today to fully capture.’
Still, many tried, including former President Barack Obama, who tweeted: ‘Senator Bob Dole was a war hero, a political leader, and a statesman—with a career and demeanor harkening back to a day when members of the Greatest Generation abided by a certain code, putting country over party.
‘Our thoughts are with Elizabeth and the Dole family.’
And in a series of tweets on Sunday afternoon, former Vice President Mike Pence remembered his late friend and colleague.
‘Senator Bob Dole was a truly great man who lived an extraordinary life of service to America, and he will be deeply missed by all of us who had the privilege to know him,’ Pence wrote.
‘His courageous service in World War II, his heroic recovery, his service in the House and in the Senate, where he served as Majority Leader, and his service on two national tickets, including as a Republican nominee for President in 1996 were all driven by a love of country and patriotism synonymous with the Greatest Generation.
‘Bob Dole’s legacy is a legacy of service,’ the former vice president concluded, ‘and Karen and I send our deepest sympathies and prayers to his beloved wife, Elizabeth, the entire Dole family and all who loved and admired this true American hero from Kansas.’
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also wrote: ‘Sen. Bob Dole dedicated himself to the American experiment and its deepest ideals.
‘Today we should reflect on service to one another and commit to following the example he set for America.’
On the complete other side of the aisle, Senator Bernie Sanders similarly tweeted: ‘Bob Dole served his country with courage on the battlefield, and with dignity in the Senate.
‘Jane and I send our condolences to his family.’
Following the announcement of his death, tributes started pouring in from members of both sides of the aisle, like former Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders
Others, meanwhile, shared memories they had of the late public servant, including former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who tweeted a photo of him handing the late senator a Congressional Medal of Honor.
‘Bob Dole was a soldier, a legislator and a statesman,’ he wrote. ‘He always stood for what was just and right.
‘I was honored to award him the Congressional Gold Medal, and I’ll always be grateful for his service to our country.’
Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, also wrote that ‘Bob took me under his wing when I came to the Senate and I couldn’t have had a better senator to learn from. He was a best friend and a mentor.’
Jerry Moran, who now represents Dole’s hometown state, also said: ‘Sen. Bob Dole will be remembered as a true American hero and an exemplary statesman – a man who chose what was right over what was convenient.
‘Whether it was on the battlefield, in the halls of Congress, or in his everyday life, Sen. Dole’s passion and dedication to his fellow Kansan and to his country was a steady reminder that a single person can make a difference and change the world.’
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas also noted that Dole was ‘one of the finest leaders I have ever had the fortune of meeting and served his state, country and the world with great distinction.’
And in a statement, Elise Stefanik, a Republican representative from New York recounted how Dole would greet other World War II vets to thank them for their service, writing: ‘Senator Dole was always greeted by North Country veterans as a hero among heroes. An honor which he so deserved.’
Democrat James Clyburn also tweeted that he was upset to ‘learn of Bob Dole’s passing,’ noting: ‘He was a true statesman who served his country with distinction for 79 years.
‘I respected his character and commitment to American ideals,’ he added, despite being of the opposing party. ‘Our country has lost one of its great champions.
Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, tweeted that Dole ‘is a Kansas war hero who believed in America’s exceptionalism with his whole heart,’ saying he ‘devoted his life to serving Kansas and America – in and out of uniform,’ while Al Gore wrote: ‘Throughout his nearly 80 years of public service, Bob Dole was a steadfast defender of his country and of the people of Kansas.’
Joni Ernst also said that Dole ‘was an honorable statesman and American hero who had an unwavering commitment to this country and those who’ve fought to protect us in uniform,’ and Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, said he was also an ‘unparalleled legislator.’
Many others shared their memories and affection for Dole on Twitter
Dole’s death was announced in a tweet from the Elizabeth Dole Foundation on Sunday, reading: ‘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.’
In February 2021, Dole announced he was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer and in July 2021 was receiving immunotherapy to treat the disease, forgoing chemotherapy due to its negative effect on his body.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered flags at the U.S. Capitol to be flown at half-staff upon the news of Dole’s death.
Dole served in the Senate for 27 years and was the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, losing to incumbent Bill Clinton.
Before that, President Gerald Ford chose Dole as his running mate in the 1976 election after Vice President Nelson Rockefeller withdrew from seeking a full term. Ford was defeated by Democrat Jimmy Carter in the general election.
Dole also sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1980, but quickly dropped out of the race he was also defeated in the 1988 Republican primaries by Vice President George H. W. Bush.
He represented Kansas in the Senate and during the final 11 years of his tenure served as the Republican Leader of the upper chamber, which included three nonconsecutive years as Senate Majority Leader.
First entering politics as a member of the Kansas House of Representatives in 1951, Dole then served as a County Attorney there before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Dole leaves behind his wife Elizabeth, 85, and daughter Robin, 67.