Former Sen. Bob Dole Passes Away at 98

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Former senator and Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole has passed away at the age of 98. The Elizabeth Dole Foundation made the announcement in a post on Twitter:

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.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

Mr. Dole was a fixture on the Washington scene for more than half a century and a national leader of the Republican Party for nearly as long. As a legislator, and ultimately as leader of the Senate, he played a role on a staggering list of legislation touching every aspect of American society: voting rights, Social Security, food stamps, child-nutrition programs, the rights of the disabled, the North American Free Trade Agreement and more. As Congress’s chief tax writer, he was instrumental in the landmark Reagan-era tax cuts as well as in an overhaul of the nation’s tax code in 1986.

In February, Dole announced that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. “While I certainly have some hurdles ahead, I also know that I join millions of Americans who face significant health challenges of their own,” he tweeted.

Dole, a Kansas native, served as Senate majority leader and held the position the longest until Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) broke his record. He served for almost 11 years. He was also one of the oldest first-time presidential nominees when he ran against former President Bill Clinton in 1996 at the age of 73.

After losing to Clinton, he remained active on the national stage. NBC News reported:

He took on a new career starring in television commercials for Viagra, Visa and other brands. He also kept his commitment to fellow war veterans, spending Saturdays well into his 90s greeting veterans who flew to Washington, D.C., courtesy of the Honor Flight Network, a nonprofit that arranges such flights for vete,rans.

Dole was born on July 22, 1923 in Russell, Kansas. Both of his parents were salespeople; his father sold dairy products and his mother sold sewing machines, among other products.

He later served in World War II, which left him disabled. He was awarded two Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars.

From NBC News:

Dole registered for the Army in 1942 and was a second lieutenant when he was sent to Italy in 1944. The following year, while attempting to rescue an army radioman, Dole got caught in a German machine gun attack that cost him a kidney, shattered his right shoulder and damaged his neck and spine, leaving him temporarily paralyzed from the neck down.

It was not believed that Dole would survive his injuries. The Army wrote a letter to his parents which read: “[a]t the present time it would appear that his recovery is somewhat questionable.”

Nevertheless, he recovered, although he never regained the ability to use his right arm. Later, he began his political career. NBC News reported:

Dole first entered politics when he returned to school in Kansas after the war in the 1950s, winning a seat for the Kansas state Legislature as a Republican. He received a law degree and became county attorney for Russell County, before a successful run for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1960. He went on to become elected a senator and served in the Senate from 1969 until 1996; he was also the Republican national chairman in 1971.

Bob Dole will be remembered as a champion for veterans and the disabled. He spearheaded the passage of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and worked to combat poverty and hunger. He often clashed with politicians on both sides, most notably with former President George H.W. Bush. Their rivalry was long-lived, but it eventually ended. When Bush died in 2018, Dole stood up from his wheelchair and gave a teary-eyed salute to the deceased president.

After his political career, Dole spent time working as an attorney and often met with veterans at the National World War II Memorial, which he long championed. He also became a vocal proponent for men’s health issues when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Bob Dole will be remembered as an iconic figure in American politics, as his fingerprints are on some of the most significant legislation that has been passed. His legacy as a military hero and a fighter for the disadvantaged will continue to live on.

RIP, Senator.