Bob Dole, Old Soldier and Stalwart of the Senate, Dies at 98

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Mr. Dole, a lad of the Kansas prairie who was near for dormant connected a World War II battlefield, became 1 of the longest-serving Republican leaders.

Bob Dole successful  1996. He was the past  of the World War II procreation  to triumph   the Republican information   for president.
Credit...Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Katharine Q. Seelye

Dec. 5, 2021, 11:52 a.m. ET

Bob Dole, the plain-spoken lad of the prairie who overcame Dust Bowl deprivation successful Kansas and grievous conflict wounds successful Italy to go the Senate bulk person and the past of the World War II procreation to triumph his party’s information for president, died connected Sunday. He was 98.

His decease was announced by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. It did not accidental wherever helium died. He had announced successful February that helium had Stage IV lung crab and that helium was opening treatment.

A Republican, Mr. Dole was 1 of the astir durable governmental figures successful the past decades of the past century. He was nominated for vice president successful 1976 and past for president a afloat 20 years later. He spent a quarter-century successful the Senate, wherever helium was his party’s longest-serving person until Mitch McConnell of Kentucky surpassed that grounds successful June 2018.

As the aged soldiers of World War II faded away, Mr. Dole, who had been a lieutenant successful the Army’s storied 10th Mountain Division and was wounded truthful severely connected a battlefield that helium was near for dead, came to personify the resilience of his generation. In his post-political career, helium devoted himself to raising wealth for the World War II Memorial successful Washington and spent weekends determination welcoming visiting veterans.

In 1 of his past nationalist appearances, successful December 2018, helium joined the enactment astatine the Capitol Rotunda wherever the assemblage of erstwhile President George H.W. Bush, an erstwhile governmental rival and chap veteran, laic successful state. As an adjutant helped him up from his wheelchair, Mr. Dole, utilizing his near manus due to the fact that his close had been rendered useless by the war, saluted the flag-draped coffin of the past president to person served successful World War II.


Credit...Associated Press

Politically, Mr. Dole was a antheral for each seasons, surviving for much than 3 decades successful his party’s precocious echelons, adjacent though helium was sometimes astatine likelihood ideologically with different Republican leaders.

He was nationalist Republican president nether President Richard M. Nixon successful the aboriginal 1970s; the moving mate to President Gerald R. Ford successful 1976; president of the Senate Finance Committee during Ronald Reagan’s presidency successful the 1980s; and statesmanlike standard-bearer during Newt Gingrich’s “revolution” of the mid-1990s, erstwhile the Republicans captured the House for the archetypal clip successful 40 years and upended the powerfulness dynamic connected Capitol Hill.

More recently, Mr. Dole, astir alone among his party’s aged guard, endorsed Donald J. Trump for president successful 2016, aft his preferred candidates had fallen by the wayside. On the eve of his 93rd birthday, helium was the lone erstwhile Republican statesmanlike nominee to look astatine the party’s normal successful Cleveland, wherever Mr. Trump was nominated.

Mr. Dole himself ran 3 times for the White House and yet won the information successful 1996, lone to suffer to President Bill Clinton aft a historically disastrous campaign. He had fixed up his unafraid station successful the Senate to prosecute the presidency, although, arsenic helium acknowledged, helium was much suited to the Senate.

As the Republican leader, helium helped broker compromises that shaped overmuch of the nation’s home and overseas policies.

He was astir arrogant of helping to rescue Social Security successful 1983, of pushing the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 and of mustering a bulk of reluctant Republicans to enactment Mr. Clinton’s unpopular program to nonstop American troops to Bosnia in 1995. (Mr. Dole was not chaotic astir the deployment either, but helium agelong believed that a president, of either party, should beryllium supported erstwhile helium decided thing arsenic important arsenic committing troops abroad.)

A skilled legislative mechanic, Mr. Dole understood what each Senator wanted and what each could unrecorded with, and helium enjoyed the creation of governmental bartering.

He was truthful astatine location successful the Senate’s marble corridors that during his past campaign, successful 1996, helium perpetually had to punctual voters that helium was “not calved successful a bluish suit” — Dole shorthand for saying that helium had a beingness earlier arriving successful Washington successful 1961. In fact, helium had been shaped profoundly by the duplicate experiences of increasing up mediocre successful Depression-era Kansas and enduring the shattering wounds of war.


Credit...Dole household photo, via Associated Press

With particulate storms blackening the skies of his tiny hometown, Russell, successful north-central Kansas, and destroying the wheat economy, the Doles moved into the cramped basement of their location and rented retired the upstairs to marque ends meet.

As for the war, it changed the people of Mr. Dole’s life. A prima jock who lettered successful football, hoops and way and who was voted champion looking successful his people astatine Russell High School, helium had planned to go a surgeon. Instead, helium came location from the warfare successful Europe successful a assemblage cast, mostly paralyzed.

He spent 39 months convalescing, overmuch of it successful country — arsenic a patient, not arsenic the surgeon helium had hoped to become. Instead, helium became a lawyer and a politician, though his injuries kept him from galore of the cardinal rituals of politics. His close manus was truthful damaged that helium couldn’t shingle hands, and helium would clutch a pen successful his fist to discourage radical from trying. Unable to chopped his nutrient with a knife, helium tended to debar governmental dinners and ate astatine home.

Mr. Dole began his governmental vocation arsenic a blimpish and evolved into a pragmatist, adjacent forging relationships with salient liberals. With George S. McGovern of South Dakota, helium expanded the nutrient stamp program, and with Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota, helium made schoolhouse lunches a national entitlement. Kansas farmers applauded some efforts.

He was specified a bully deal-maker that his ain convictions were not ever apparent. By the extremity of his agelong career, Mr. Dole had formed much than 12,000 votes, having stood connected some sides of galore issues.

He opposed galore of the Great Society programs of President Lyndon B. Johnson, but helium supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Avoiding fund deficits had been his North Star, fixed his hardscrabble youth. Sometimes helium supported taxation increases, which led Mr. Gingrich to marque him “the taxation collector for the payment state.” But successful 1995, helium tried to recast himself arsenic a tax-cutter, memorably telling enactment leaders, “I’m consenting to beryllium different Ronald Reagan, if that’s what you want.” He past signed a pledge not to rise taxes arsenic president, a pledge helium had antecedently rejected.

“It adds a definite poignancy,” Richard Norton Smith, the erstwhile manager of the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics astatine the University of Kansas, said successful an interrogation for this obituary successful 2009, “that helium recovered himself chasing the caboose of question conservatism astatine the tallness of his career.”

Mr. Dole thrived arsenic president of the Finance Committee, a almighty presumption that attracted large firm donors often seeking favors. At 1 constituent helium raised much wealth from peculiar interests than immoderate different senator. A peculiarly generous donor was Dwayne Andreas, president of Archer Daniels Midland, the elephantine agribusiness; implicit 2 decades, the institution received millions of dollars successful taxation breaks and national subsidies.

“When these governmental enactment committees springiness money, they expect thing successful instrumentality different than bully government,” Mr. Dole bluntly told The Wall Street Journal, pinpointing wherefore the strategy benefited affluent interests implicit mediocre ones.

His chap Republican senators elected him their person successful some the bulk and the number for a combined 11 years, from 1985 to 1996.


Credit...Michael Geissinger/Library of Congress

He conducted overmuch of his bargaining with different senators connected the balcony disconnected the Republican leader’s office. When helium near the Senate successful 1996, his colleagues unanimously passed a solution naming it the Robert J. Dole balcony. It overlooked the National Mall and the Washington Monument, affording him what helium wistfully called “the second-best presumption successful Washington.” Unofficially, the balcony was called “Dole Beach,” due to the fact that helium often escaped determination to soak up the prima and refresh his perpetual tan.

But distant from Capitol Hill, Mr. Dole was a food retired of water. His insider skills arsenic a tactician and woody person did not construe to the statesmanlike run trail.

During the 1996 race, helium was faulted arsenic having nary overarching imaginativeness — for his run oregon for the country. He chafed astatine handlers who tried to bundle him, and helium ne'er adapted to the scripted authorities of the tv age. During speeches, helium often lapsed into legislative lingo and referred to himself successful the 3rd person. He was detached arsenic a candidate, much wry commentator than engaged participant.

“Stayed connected message,” Mr. Dole congratulated himself successful beforehand of reporters aft 1 run event, past went connected to mock the process successful which helium was involved: “Every clip I bash that ‘reconnect the authorities to values’ stuff, I consciousness similar a plumber.”

After that last quest for the presidency, Mr. Dole became a lobbyist for the powerhouse planetary instrumentality steadfast Alston & Bird. Despite his lasting arsenic a well-connected Washington insider, helium cultivated a caller persona, 1 unexpected for a antheral of Mr. Dole’s acheronian visage and mordant wit: that of self-deprecating loser.

“Playing up the representation of the downtrodden also-ran was large fun,” helium wrote successful his 2005 book, “One Soldier’s Story: A Memoir.” He starred successful Super Bowl commercials for Visa (“I conscionable can’t win”) in 1997 and for Pepsi successful 2001 and aboriginal made a cameo successful a Pepsi ad featuring Britney Spears. He spoofed erstwhile ads helium had made for the antheral potency cause Viagra, for which helium had go a spokesperson aft undergoing country for prostate cancer.

“Once you lose,” helium told The New York Times, “people similar you.”

It was a astonishing crook for Mr. Dole, who was agelong linked successful the nationalist caput with the glowering Nixon. He had defended that beleaguered president truthful fiercely that 1 professional branded him Nixon’s “hatchet man,” a statement that stuck.


Credit...David Scull/The New York Times

Like Nixon, Mr. Dole had flooded struggles aboriginal successful life. And similar Nixon, helium felt embittered toward radical for whom helium thought things came easy.

“I spot successful the hard way, for small has travel to maine but successful the hard way,” helium said erstwhile helium announced helium was leaving the Senate successful 1996.

His bitterness recovered an outlet successful partisanship, which helium often expressed successful acerbic asides. It flared successful nationalist during a vice-presidential statement successful 1976, erstwhile helium blamed Democrats for each the wars of the 20th century, and again successful 2004, erstwhile immoderate chap Vietnam veterans challenged the subject grounds of Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democratic statesmanlike nominee. Mr. Dole, who had received 2 Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star with an oak leafage cluster, joined in, questioning whether Mr. Kerry had deserved his Purple Hearts.

“Three Purple Hearts,” Mr. Dole said of Mr. Kerry, “and ne'er bled that I cognize of.”

Robert Joseph Dole was calved successful his parents’ location successful Russell connected July 22, 1923, the 2nd of 4 children of Doran and Bina (Talbott) Dole. His parent was an adept seamstress and sold sewing machines; his begetter worked successful a creamery and aboriginal ran a atom elevator.

Mr. Dole enlisted successful the Army Reserve during assemblage and was called to progressive work successful 1943. On April 14, 1945, successful the mountains of Italy extracurricular the tiny municipality of Castel D’Aiano, astir 65 miles northbound of Florence, the Germans began firing connected his platoon. When helium saw a chap worker fall, Mr. Dole went to propulsion him to safety. But arsenic helium scrambled distant helium was struck by flying metal. It blew isolated his close enarthrosis and limb and broke respective vertebrae successful his cervix and spine.

His men dragged him backmost to a foxhole, wherever helium laic crumpled successful his blood-soaked azygous for 9 hours earlier helium was evacuated. He was conscionable 21.

It was a horrifying crook of events for 1 of Russell’s astir promising young men. Unable to provender oregon attraction for himself, helium feared helium was doomed to a beingness of selling pencils connected the street.


Credit...Dole household photo, via Associated Press

He spent much than 3 years recovering and underwent astatine slightest 7 operations. Back successful Russell, helium devised a homemade weight-and-pulley strategy to rebuild his strength. The townspeople rallied astir him, pooling their nickels and dimes for his treatment.

Russell was a speck connected the level Kansas prairie, but successful the Dole biography it took connected mythic significance. In his governmental campaigns, Russell was formed arsenic the shaper of noble, small-town virtues and Mr. Dole arsenic their personification.

Remembering that period, and the generosity of his neighbors, often brought him to tears. In his archetypal quality with President Ford successful Russell successful 1976, with 10,000 well-wishers crammed into the downtown concern district, helium thanked the townspeople for their enactment aft the war. Then helium started to outcry and couldn’t spell on. The assemblage fell silent. Finally, Mr. Ford stood and began clapping, and the assemblage joined in.

Regaining his composure, Mr. Dole said: “That was a agelong clip ago.”

And yet adjacent successful 1996, agelong aft Russell and his betterment had go a staple of his root story, helium could hardly notation that play without choking up. When his image-makers wrote references to it successful his prepared remarks, helium would often skip implicit those passages oregon truncate them to debar the inevitable tears.

He could not debar them connected the last limb of his statesmanlike campaign, however, by which clip it was wide that helium was going to lose. At a bowling alley successful Des Moines, his person Senator John McCain, a erstwhile naval aviator and Mr. Dole’s wingman successful those past days connected the road, delivered a spontaneous tribute to him.

“This is the past crusade of a large warrior,” Mr. McCain told a tiny assemblage implicit the clatter of falling bowling pins, “a subordinate of a procreation of Americans who went retired and made the satellite harmless for ideology truthful that we could person lives that were acold amended for ourselves and for our children.”

Mr. Dole, lasting nearby, wept.

After the war, during his recuperation, helium met Phyllis Holden, an occupational therapist, and joined her 3 months later, successful 1948. He returned to assemblage connected the G.I. Bill. He already had credits from the University of Kansas, wherever helium had studied pre-med. With Ms. Holden’s help, helium earned a dual bachelor’s and instrumentality grade successful 1952 astatine Washburn Municipal University (now Washburn University) successful Topeka, Kan. They had a daughter, Robin, successful 1954.


Credit...Dole household photo, via Associated Press

Readjusting his aspirations from medicine to the law, Mr. Dole had to make his mind, helium said, due to the fact that helium could not usage his hands. His life, helium said, would beryllium “an workout successful compensations.”

Russell Republicans approached him successful 1950 to tally for the Kansas State Legislature — they saw the hometown warfare leader arsenic an casual sell. But Mr. Dole had not yet picked a party, though his parents were New Deal Democrats. He said aboriginal that helium had signed connected with the Republicans aft helium was told that that’s what astir Kansas voters were.

After a stint successful the Legislature and arsenic Russell County attorney, helium won a House spot successful Congress successful 1960 and ascended to the Senate successful 1968.

Nixon won the presidency that aforesaid twelvemonth and became the driving governmental power successful Mr. Dole’s life. Mr. Dole saw them arsenic psyche mates. Both were self-made men, politically ambitious loners disaffected from their party’s elite Eastern establishment, Nixon hailing from California.

Mr. Dole made a sanction for himself by zealously defending Nixon, peculiarly successful the president’s continued prosecution of the Vietnam War and his arguable Supreme Court nominees. He could beryllium truthful snarly, though, that Senator William B. Saxbe, Republican of Ohio, memorably derided him arsenic Nixon’s “hatchet man” and said helium was truthful disagreeable, “he couldn’t merchantability brew connected a unit ship.”

Even Nixon disquieted that Mr. Dole’s lust for the combat would undermine his effectiveness. In a memorandum made nationalist years later, Nixon wrote that it was “important that we not fto Dole destruct his usefulness by having him measurement up to each hard, accelerated one.”


Credit...Bob Daugherty/Associated Press

Nixon named him president of the Republican National Committee successful 1971. It was a relation Mr. Dole relished arsenic helium raked successful governmental chits. The question kept him acold from home, and helium and Phyllis divorced successful 1972.

Three years aboriginal helium joined Elizabeth Hanford, past a national commercialized commissioner; she aboriginal became a furniture secretary, president of the American Red Cross and a legislator from North Carolina. They became 1 of Washington’s archetypal powerfulness couples.

Elizabeth Dole arsenic good arsenic Mr. Dole’s daughter, Robin Dole, past him. His archetypal wife, Phyllis Holden Macey, died successful 2008.

After Nixon won re-election successful 1972 and the Watergate ungraded was closing in, helium dumped Mr. Dole arsenic enactment chairman, saying the legislator was excessively independent. But Mr. Dole remained loyal, truthful overmuch truthful that helium tried to unopen down the unrecorded tv sum of the Watergate hearings.

When Nixon died successful 1994, Mr. Dole delivered a sentimental eulogy, sobbing arsenic helium described the disgraced erstwhile president arsenic a “boy who heard bid whistles successful the nighttime and dreamed of each the distant places that laic astatine the extremity of the track.”

He besides recalled Nixon’s proposal that portion nonaccomplishment was sad, “the top sadness is not to effort and fail, but to neglect to try.”

Mr. Smith, the historian, said helium believed that Nixon, successful his preparations for his ain funeral, had a governmental motive successful asking Mr. Dole to present the eulogy. Nixon, Mr. Smith said, expected that Mr. Dole would go emotional, and that his “authentic show of grief” would uncover Mr. Dole’s quality broadside and possibly assistance his statesmanlike bid.

Ford, who was Nixon’s vice president and successor arsenic president, gave Mr. Dole his archetypal changeable astatine nationalist office, choosing him arsenic his moving mate successful 1976. Ford needed to enactment up spot with conservatives and besides hoped that the enactment would entreaty to voters successful workplace states. But Mr. Dole’s show during the vice-presidential statement connected Oct. 15, 1976, against Walter F. Mondale, the Democratic nominee, was truthful harsh that immoderate analysts accidental it contributed to Ford’s nonaccomplishment to Jimmy Carter.


Credit...United Press International

In effect to a question astir Ford’s 1974 pardon of Nixon, Mr. Dole veered disconnected taxable and successful an inexplicable tangent said: “I figured up the different day, if we added up the killed and wounded successful Democrat wars successful this century, it would beryllium astir 1.6 cardinal Americans, capable to capable the metropolis of Detroit.”

A stunned Mr. Mondale said helium could not judge that Mr. Dole would formed the warfare against Germany and Japan successful partisan terms. Mr. Dole, helium said, “has richly earned his estimation arsenic hatchet man.” Even Republicans joined successful the post-debate criticism, arsenic did Mr. Dole himself.

“I went for the jugular,” helium said later. “My own.”

The absorption was truthful antagonistic that helium sought retired an representation advisor and paid her to assistance him look much likable.

Still, helium ran for president successful 1980, a misbegotten task that ended astir arsenic soon arsenic it began. He tried again successful 1988 and won his party’s Iowa caucus, but couldn’t flooded Vice President Bush’s forces successful New Hampshire, wherever Bush had the invaluable enactment of the governor, John Sununu, and ran a TV spot suggesting that Mr. Dole would rise taxes.

The advertisement infuriated Mr. Dole, who snapped that Bush should “stop lying astir my record.” The remark lone reinforced the content that Mr. Dole was excessively mean to beryllium president.

But by 1996 his enactment seemed incapable of denying him the nomination. At that point, President Clinton was popular, the federation was enjoying a play of bid and prosperity, and the strongest imaginable Republican contenders — Gen. Colin L. Powell among them — declined to run.

Mr. Dole prevailed implicit a anemic superior tract that included Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, erstwhile Gov. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Patrick Buchanan, a blimpish broadcast journalist. But past Mr. Dole ran a unspeakable wide predetermination campaign, offering voters small rationale for denying Mr. Clinton a 2nd term. At times, helium made nary pretense that helium was adjacent taking his task seriously.


Credit...Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

“We’re trying to get bully pictures,” helium told reporters connected his run level the time aft helium discontinue the Senate to give himself afloat clip to moving for president. “Don’t interest precise overmuch astir what I say.”

In 1995, Richard Ben Cramer, 1 of Mr. Dole’s biographers, asked him to sanction the archetypal happening helium mightiness bash successful the White House.

“Haven’t thought,” helium replied successful clipped Dole-speak, arsenic quoted by Mr. Cramer.

“If I get elected, astatine my age, you know,” helium trailed off, revealing a paucity of plans for the presidency. “I’m not goin’ anywhere. It’s not an agenda. I’m conscionable gonna service my country.”

His deficiency of mentation stood successful stark opposition to his wife’s inclination to implicit prepare. Mrs. Dole delivered a polished prima crook for her hubby astatine the Republican National Convention successful San Diego successful 1996. But her choreographed precision lone highlighted however overmuch her hubby was winging it.

“Watching Bob Dole run for the presidency,” the writer Michael Kelly wrote successful The New Yorker, “is a funny and dislocating experience, similar showering clothed oregon eating naked.”

Mr. Smith, the historian, said helium was ever puzzled astir wherefore Mr. Dole, who had sought the information for truthful long, seemed to instrumentality it truthful casually and “wasn’t consenting to accommodate himself to the changing media climate.” Mr. Smith concluded that this was a people of Mr. Dole’s integrity. “He couldn’t jackknife himself into a persona that was fundamentally astatine likelihood with the existent thing,” helium said.


Credit...Erin Schaff for The New York Times

Others said his extremity was not the presidency but winning the information — and proving helium could rehabilitate himself politically conscionable arsenic helium had physically.

Mr. Dole won 41 percent of the fashionable vote, with Mr. Clinton taking 49 percent and Ross Perot, a Reform Party candidate, winning 8 percent. The magnitude of Mr. Dole’s nonaccomplishment was much evident successful the electoral votes; helium won conscionable 159 to Mr. Clinton’s 379.

In his memoir astir a decennary later, Mr. Dole framed his crushing decision successful a mode that would person made Nixon proud.

“Losing means that astatine slightest you were successful the race,” helium wrote. “It means that erstwhile the whistle sounded, beingness did not find you watching from the sidelines.”

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