|United States Senator
January 3, 1969 – June 11, 1996
|Preceded by||Frank Carlson|
|Succeeded by||Sheila Frahm|
|Senate Majority Leader|
January 3, 1995 – June 11, 1996
|Preceded by||George J. Mitchell|
|Succeeded by||Trent Lott|
January 3, 1985 – January 3, 1987
|Whip||Alan K. Simpson|
|Preceded by||Howard H. Baker Jr.|
|Succeeded by||Robert C. Byrd|
|Senate Minority Leader|
January 3, 1987 – January 3, 1995
|Whip||Alan K. Simpson|
|Preceded by||Robert Byrd|
|Succeeded by||Tom Daschle|
|Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee|
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 1985
|Preceded by||Russell B. Long|
|Succeeded by||Bob Packwood|
|47th Chairman of the Republican National Committee|
|Preceded by||Rogers Morton|
|Succeeded by||George H. W. Bush|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kansas's 1st district
January 3, 1963 – January 3, 1969
|Preceded by||William Henry Avery|
|Succeeded by||Keith Sebelius|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kansas's 6th district
January 3, 1961 – January 3, 1963
|Preceded by||Wint Smith|
|Succeeded by||District abolished|
|Born||Robert Joseph Dole
July 22, 1923
Russell, Kansas, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Phyllis Holden (1948–1972)
Elizabeth Hanford (1975–present)
|Alma mater||University of Kansas (B.A.)
University of Arizona (J.D.)
New York University (LL.M.)
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1942–1948|
|Unit||10th Mountain Division|
|Battles/wars||World War II (WIA)|
Purple Heart (2)
Robert Joseph "Bob" Dole (born July 22, 1923) is an American Republican Party politician who represented Kansas in the United States Senate from 1969 to 1996 and in the House of Representatives from 1961 to 1969. In the 1976 presidential election, Dole was the Republican Party nominee for Vice President and incumbent President Gerald Ford's running mate. In the presidential election of 1996, Dole was the Republican nominee for President, unsuccessfully challenging incumbent President Bill Clinton.
In 2007, President George W. Bush appointed Dole and Secretary Donna Shalala as co-chairs of the commission to investigate problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Dole is currently a member of the advisory council of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and special counsel at the Washington, D.C., office of law firm Alston & Bird.
Early life and education
Dole was born on July 22, 1923 in Russell, Kansas, the son of Bina M. (née Talbott; 1904–1983) and Doran Ray Dole (1901–1975). Dole's father, who had moved the family to Russell while Dole was still a toddler, earned money by running a small creamery. One of Dole's father's customers was the father of future Senator Arlen Specter. During the Great Depression, which severely impacted Kansas and its residents, the Dole family moved to the basement of their home and eventually rented out the upper floors to raise money. As a boy, Dole worked as a soda jerk in the local drug store.
Dole graduated from Russell High School in the spring of 1941 and enrolled at the University of Kansas the following fall. Dole had been a star high school athlete in Russell, and influential Kansas basketball coach Phog Allen traveled to Russell to recruit him to play for the basketball team. While at KU, Dole played for the basketball team, the track team, and the football team. In football, Dole played at the end position, earning varsity letters in 1942 and 1944. While in college, Dole joined the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, and in 1970 was bestowed with the Fraternity's "Man of the Year" honor. Dole's pre-med studies at KU were interrupted by World War II. After the war, Dole returned to become a law student. Dole attended the University of Arizona from 1948 to 1951 and earned both his LLB and BA degrees from Washburn University in 1952. Dole was initiated as a Freemason of Russell Lodge No. 177, Russell, Kansas on April 19, 1955.
Dole grew up in a house at 1035 North Maple in Russell and it remained his official residence throughout his political career.
World War II and recovery
In 1942, Dole joined the United States Army's Enlisted Reserve Corps to fight in World War II, becoming a second lieutenant in the Army's 10th Mountain Division. In April 1945, while engaged in combat near Castel d'Aiano in the Apennine mountains southwest of Bologna, Italy, Dole was badly wounded by German machine gun fire, being hit in his upper back and right arm. As Lee Sandlin describes, when fellow soldiers saw the extent of his injuries, all they thought they could do was to "give him the largest dose of morphine they dared and write an 'M' for 'morphine' on his forehead in his own blood, so that nobody else who found him would give him a second, fatal dose." Dole was transported to the United States, where his recovery was slow, interrupted by blood clots and a life-threatening infection. After large doses of penicillin had not succeeded, Dole overcame the infection with the administration of streptomycin, which at the time was still an experimental drug. He nevertheless remained despondent, "not ready to accept the fact that my life would be changed forever." He was encouraged to see a Chicago orthopedist by the name of Hampar Kelikian, who had been working with veterans returning from war. Although during their first meeting Kelikian told Dole that he would never be able to recover fully, the encounter changed Dole's outlook on life, who years later wrote that Kelikian, a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, "inspired me to focus on what I had left and what I could do with it, rather than complaining what had been lost." Dr. K, as Dole later came to affectionately call him, operated on him seven times, free of charge, and had, in Dole's words, "an impact on my life second only to my family."
Dole recovered from his wounds at the Percy Jones Army Hospital. This complex of federal buildings, no longer a hospital, is now named Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center in honor of three patients who became United States Senators: Dole, Philip Hart and Daniel Inouye. Dole was decorated three times, receiving two Purple Hearts for his injuries, and the Bronze Star with combat "V" for valor for his attempt to assist a downed radioman.
Dole ran for office for the first time in 1950 and was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives, serving a two-year term. After graduating from law school at Washburn University in Topeka, Dole was admitted to the bar and commenced the practice of law in his hometown of Russell in 1952.
Also in 1952, Dole became the County Attorney of Russell County, serving in that position for eight years. In 1960, Dole was elected to the United States House of Representatives from Kansas' 6th Congressional District, located in central Kansas. In 1962, his district was merged with the 3rd District in western Kansas to form the 1st Congressional District, a huge 60-county district that soon became known as the "Big First." Dole was re-elected that year and twice thereafter without serious difficulty.
In 1968, Dole defeated Kansas Governor William H. Avery for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate to succeed retiring Senator Frank Carlson, subsequently being elected. Dole was re-elected in 1974, 1980, 1986, and 1992, before resigning on June 12, 1996, to focus on his Presidential campaign. Dole faced only one truly enthusiastic and well-financed challenger, Congressman Bill Roy in 1974. Much of Roy's popularity was in response to the fallout from Watergate. Dole would win re-election in 1974 by only a few thousand votes, having in the end graphically painted Roy as pro-abortion. While in the Senate, Dole served as chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1971 until 1973, the ranking Republican on the Agriculture Committee from 1975 to 1978, and the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee from 1979 to 1980.
When the Republicans took control of the Senate after the 1980 elections, Dole became chairman of the Finance Committee in 1981, serving until 1985. From 1985, when Howard Baker of Tennessee retired, until his resignation from the Senate, Dole was the leader of the Senate Republicans, serving as Majority Leader from 1985 until 1987 and again from 1995 to 1996. Dole served as Minority Leader from 1987 to 1995. Following the advice of conservative William Kristol, Dole flatly rejected the health care plan of Bill Clinton, remarking, "There is no crisis in health care."
Dole had a moderate voting record and was widely considered to be one of the few Kansas Republicans who could bridge the gap between the moderate and conservative wings of the Kansas Republican Party. As a Congressman in the early 1960s, Dole supported the major civil rights bills, which appealed to moderates. When Johnson proposed the Great Society in 1964–65, Dole voted against some War on Poverty measures like public-housing subsidies and Medicare, thus appealing to conservatives. Dole's first speech in the Senate in 1969 was a plea for federal aid for the handicapped. Later, as a member of the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, Dole joined liberal Senator George McGovern to lower eligibility requirements for federal food stamps, a liberal goal that was supported by Kansas farmers.
Dole's hawkishness on the Vietnam War and on crime issues kept him in good standing with the right wing. When they heard Nixon might make Dole chairman of the Republican National Committee, half the Republican Senators protested, especially moderates who feared Dole would direct party assets to conservatives. They were wrong, as Dole in fact offered something to all Republican factions.
In 1976, Dole ran unsuccessfully for Vice President on a ticket headed by President Gerald Ford. Incumbent Vice President Nelson Rockefeller had withdrawn from consideration the previous fall, and Dole was chosen. Dole stated during the Vice Presidential debate with Walter Mondale, "I figured it up the other day: If we added up the killed and wounded in Democrat wars in this century, it would be about 1.6 million Americans — enough to fill the city of Detroit". The remark backfired.
Dole ran for the 1980 Republican Presidential nomination, eventually won by Ronald Reagan. Despite Dole's fame from the '76 campaign, Dole was viewed as a lower-tier candidate, trailing not only Reagan but George Bush, Howard Baker, John Connally, and John Anderson. Dole received only 597 votes (less than 1%) in the New Hampshire primary and immediately withdrew. In March 1980, Dole urged former President Ford to jump into the race as a stop-Reagan candidate.
Dole made a more serious bid in 1988, formally announcing his candidacy in Russell, Kansas, on November 9, 1987. At the ceremony, Dole was presented with the cigar box that had been used to collect donations for his war-related medical expenses. The box contained $100,000 in campaign donations. Dole started out strong by solidly defeating then-Vice President George H.W. Bush in the Iowa caucus—Bush finished third, behind television evangelist Pat Robertson. Bush, however, recovered in time to defeat Dole in the New Hampshire primary a week later. The New Hampshire contest between the two was particularly bitter although they differed little on the issues. After the returns had come in on the night of that primary, Dole appeared to lose his temper in a television interview. Dole was interviewed live in New Hampshire on NBC by Tom Brokaw, who was in the NBC studio in New York. It happened that Bush was right next to Brokaw in the studio. Brokaw asked Bush if he had anything to say to Dole. Bush responded, "No, just wish him well and meet again in the south." Dole, apparently not expecting to see Bush, when asked the same question about the Vice President said, "Yeah, stop lying about my record", largely in response to a very tough New Hampshire Bush commercial which accused Dole of "straddling" on taxes. This remark prompted some members of the media to perceive him as angry about the loss, contributing to Dole's "hatchet man" image earned during his tenure as RNC chairman and the '76 campaign.
Despite two big wins in South Dakota and Minnesota a week after New Hampshire, Dole was not able to recover. Viewed by many as a micromanager who could not effectively oversee a presidential campaign while serving as a senator, Dole did not hire a full-time campaign manager, former TN Senator Bill Brock, until the fall of 1987, well after Bush's team had been in place. Despite raising almost as much money as the Bush campaign, the Dole campaign spent its money faster and was vastly outspent in the contests held after IA, NH, MN, and SD. Despite a key endorsement by Senator Strom Thurmond, one of many Republican senators who supported their leader, Dole was defeated by Bush again in South Carolina in early March. Several days later, every southern state voted for Bush in a "Super Tuesday" sweep. Another big loss in Illinois persuaded Dole to withdraw from the race.
1996 presidential campaign
Dole was the early front runner for the GOP nomination in the 1996 presidential race. Dole was expected to win the nomination against underdog candidates such as the more conservative Senator Phil Gramm of Texas and more moderate Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Pat Buchanan upset Dole in the early New Hampshire primary, however, with Dole finishing second and former Tennessee governor Lamar Alexander finishing third. Publisher Steve Forbes also ran and broadcast a stream of negative ads. At least eight candidates ran for the nomination.
Dole eventually won the nomination, becoming the oldest first-time presidential nominee at the age of 73 years, 1 month (Ronald Reagan was 73 years, 6 months in 1984, for his second presidential nomination). In his acceptance speech, Dole stated, "Let me be the bridge to an America that only the unknowing call myth. Let me be the bridge to a time of tranquillity, faith, and confidence in action," to which incumbent president Bill Clinton responded, "We do not need to build a bridge to the past, we need to build a bridge to the future." Dole, however, had been forced to spend more on the primary than he had planned and until the convention in San Diego faced federal limits on campaign spending. Dole hoped to use his long experience in Senate procedures to maximize publicity from his rare positioning as Senate Majority Leader against an incumbent President but was stymied by Senate Democrats. On June 11, 1996, Dole resigned his seat to focus on the campaign, saying he was either heading for "The White House or home".
The incumbent, Bill Clinton, had no serious primary opposition. Dole promised a 15% across-the-board reduction in income tax rates and made former Congressman and supply side advocate Jack Kemp his running mate. Dole also found himself criticized from both the left and the right within the Republican Party over the convention platform, one of the major issues being the inclusion of the Human Life Amendment. Clinton framed the narrative against Dole early, painting him as a mere clone of unpopular then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, warning America that Dole would work in concert with the Republican Congress to slash popular social programs, like Medicare and Social Security, dubbed by Clinton as "Dole-Gingrich". Dole's tax-cut plan found itself under attack from the White House, who said it would "blow a hole in the deficit". Dole was defeated, as pundits had long expected, by Bill Clinton in the 1996 election. Clinton won in a 379–159 Electoral College landslide, capturing 49.2% of the vote against Dole's 40.7% and Ross Perot's 8.4%.
Dole is the only person in the history of the two major U.S. political parties to have been a party's nominee for both President and Vice President, but who was never elected to either office.
The span of 20 years between his participation in the 1976 vice-presidential debate and the 1996 presidential debates is the longest for any candidate since televised debates in presidential election years were instituted in 1960.
Dole has worked part-time for a Washington, D.C., law firm, Alston & Bird LLP, and engaged in a career of writing, consulting, public speaking, and television appearances. This has included becoming a television commercial spokesman for such products as Viagra, Visa, Dunkin' Donuts and Pepsi-Cola (with Britney Spears), and as an occasional political commentator on the interview program Larry King Live, and has been a guest a number of times on Comedy Central's satirical news program, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Dole was, for a short time, a commentator opposite Bill Clinton on CBS's 60 Minutes. Dole guest-starred as himself on NBC's Brooke Shields sitcom Suddenly Susan in January 1997 (shortly after losing the presidential election). Dole also made a cameo appearance on Saturday Night Live, parodying himself in November 1996. On the Larry King show Dole had a heated exchange with Democratic presidential primary candidate Wesley Clark in which Dole correctly predicted that Clark would lose the New Hampshire primary and other primaries. In 2001, Dole, at age 77, was treated successfully for an abdominal aortic aneurysm by vascular surgeon Kenneth Ouriel. Dr. Ouriel said Dole "maintained his sense of humor throughout his care."
The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, housed on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence, Kansas, was established to bring bipartisanship back to politics. The Institute, which opened in July 2003 to coincide with Dole's 80th birthday, has featured such notable speakers as former President Bill Clinton and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Dole has written several books, including one on jokes told by the Presidents of the United States, in which he ranks the presidents according to their level of humor. On January 18, 1989, Dole was presented with the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Reagan. Then, on January 17, 1997, President Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his service in the military and his political career. Dole received the American Patriot Award in 2004 for his lifelong dedication to America and his service in World War II.
Dole's legacy also includes a commitment to combating hunger both in the United States and around the globe. In addition to numerous domestic programs, and along with former Senator George McGovern (D-South Dakota), Dole created an international school lunch program through the George McGovern-Robert Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, which, funded largely through the Congress, helps fight child hunger and poverty by providing nutritious meals to children in schools in developing countries. This internationally popular program would go on to provide more than 22 million meals to children in 41 countries in its first eight years. It has since led to greatly increased global interest in and support for school-feeding programs — which benefit girls and young women, in particular — and won McGovern and Dole the 2008 World Food Prize.
In recent years, Dole has struggled with health problems. In December 2004, he had a hip-replacement operation which required him to receive blood thinners. One month after the surgery, it was determined that Dole was bleeding inside his head. Dole spent 40 days at Walter Reed, and upon release, his "good" arm, the left, was of limited use. Dole told a reporter that he needed help to handle the simplest of tasks, since both of his arms are injured. Dole undergoes physical therapy for his left shoulder once a week, but doctors have told him that he might not regain total use of his left arm.
In 2009, Dole was hospitalized for an elevated heart rate and sore legs for which he underwent a successful skin-graft procedure. In February 2010, Dole was hospitalized for pneumonia after undergoing knee surgery. He spent 10 months at Walter Reed, recovering from the surgery and experienced three bouts with pneumonia. Dole was released from the hospital in November 2010. In January 2011, however, Dole was readmitted to Walter Reed Hospital and spent about six days there, being treated for a fever as well as a minor infection.
Dole is special counsel at the Washington, D.C., law firm of Alston & Bird. On April 12, 2005, Dole released his autobiography One Soldier's Story: A Memoir (ISBN 0-06-076341-8), which talks of his World War II experiences and his battle to survive his war injuries.
Dole also was responsible for a large amount of funds raised for the U.S. National World War II memorial in Washington, D.C.
On September 18, 2004, Dole offered the inaugural lecture to dedicate the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, during which he chronicled his life as a public servant and also discussed the importance of public service in terms of defense, civil rights, the economy, and in daily life. Dole also gave the 2008 Vance Distinguished Lecture at Central Connecticut State University.
In 2007, Dole joined fellow former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, and George Mitchell to found the Bipartisan Policy Center, a non-profit think-tank that works to develop policies suitable for bipartisan support.
That same year, President George W. Bush appointed Dole and Donna Shalala co-chairs of the President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors to investigate problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
On January 26, 2012, Dole issued a letter critical of Newt Gingrich, focusing on Dole and Gingrich's time working together on Capitol Hill. The letter was issued immediately before the Florida primary. Dole endorsed Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination.
On December 4, 2012, Dole made an appearance on the Senate floor to advocate ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Democratic Senator John Kerry explained: "Bob Dole is here because he wants to know that other countries will come to treat the disabled as we do." The Senate rejected the treaty by a vote of 61-38, less than the 66 required for ratification. Many Republican senators voted against the bill, fearing it would impact American sovereignty.
In early 2014 Dole began a reunion tour to his home state of Kansas, in which he intends to visit each of the state's 105 counties. At each stop he spends approximately an hour speaking with old friends and well-wishers. Dole endorsed and campaigned for Senator Pat Roberts during the latter's 2014 re-election bid.
On September 30, 2015, the National Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Centennial (NCAGC) honored former Senator Bob Dole with the organization's Survivor's Gratitude Award in the category of "Hero of Responsibility and Principle" for his tireless efforts in raising attention to the Armenian Genocide and its victims.
Dole married Phyllis Holden, an occupational therapist at a veterans hospital, in Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1948, three months after they met. Their daughter, Robin, was born in 1954. Dole and Holden divorced January 11, 1972. Holden died on April 22, 2008.
Dole met his second wife Louise O'Kief-Trout, Owner and founder of Marchesa Jewelry in 1972 and the two were married from April 1973-February 1974 the marriage was anulled, Dole met his third wife Elizabeth 13 years younger, also in 1972. The couple were married on December 6, 1975. They have no children.
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- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
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- Bob Dole discussing Lee Atwater in the film Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bob Dole.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Bob Dole|
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:
- Dole, Robert Joseph, (1923 – )
- Bob Dole's official website
- Bob Dole's remarks at the dedication of the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas
- Bob Dole's memorial to Ronald Reagan after Reagan's death (registration required)
- The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics
- Bob Dole's biography on Alston & Bird's website
- CNN AllPolitics review of Bob Dole's early life
- Remarks at the Presentation Ceremony for the Presidential Citizens Medal – January 18, 1989
- Bob Dole at the Internet Movie Database
- Appearances on C-SPAN