At 98, Bob Dole is relying on Trump’s legacy and fascinated with the way forward for GOP. to
- Dole said there was no question that Trump lost his re-election race – tightly, but fairly and honestly.
- Regarding the current political environment, he says: “I think we have lost something.”
- Dole described Biden as “a great, kind, upright, decent person”.
Bob Dole turns 98 Thursday and battles lung cancer, but he still speaks openly about what’s going on in Washington, which he once helped run – from the Keystone Pipeline to the need to get Senate filibusters protect.
“Both sides use it,” noted the former Senate majority leader of parliamentary rule, then praised “the West Virginia guy” who defends it. That would be Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. Dole decided on the spot that he wanted to meet Manchin – to invite him for a conversation, without a big agenda, across party lines. Like in the old days.
“I’m pretty busy,” Dole said during a 45-minute interview at his apartment in the Watergate complex, and he has more things to do. He hopes to regain strength to travel “home one more time” to Kansas, visit the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Topeka, and meet with students from the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas at Lawrence.
If he blows out the candles on his birthday cake – at a party hosted by his wife, former North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole, and attended by a dozen or so friends – he will be “in pretty good health for a while.” “Wish longer.
Robert Joseph Dole has not been short of health challenges, starting with the severe wounds he sustained on a battlefield in Italy during World War II. They cost the 22-year-old lieutenant of the 10th Mountain Division of the Army the use of his right arm and almost his life. Earlier this year he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and began chemotherapy “that would kill me”.
Now he is receiving immunotherapy instead, which is less effective at fighting the disease but is easier for him to tolerate. The day after treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, he rested in a hospital chair and used oxygen, breathing difficult at times, but clear mind and sharp memory.
Dole holds many of the roles that matter in Washington’s politics. He was a member of the House of Representatives and Chairman of the Republican National Committee. A senator and ultimately the majority leader. A candidate for Vice President (as Gerald Ford’s Vice President in 1976) and, after his third application for the top post in 1996, the candidate for President.
A trumpeter, but “trumped”
He was one of the few elders of the traditional Republican establishment to support Donald Trump in 2016 and the only former presidential candidate to attend Congress to nominate Trump. In a split with the 45th President, Dole said there was no question that Trump lost his 2020 re-election race – narrowly maybe, but fair and honest.
“He lost the election and I’m sorry he did, but they did,” said Dole. “He ran Rudy Giuliani across the country claiming fraud. He never had a bit of fraud in all of the lawsuits and statements he filed.”
“I’m a trumper,” said Dole at some point during the conversation. But he added on another point, “I kind of freaked out though.”
In his day, Dole was known for his quick wits and sharp partisanship, defending President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal and controversially citing “Democratic Wars” during the 1976 Vice Presidential debate. His tone is softer now, and his proudest accomplishments are cites those he won in partnerships with Democrats.
He and New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan forged a bipartisan compromise in 1983 to extend the social security system’s solvency, and he and Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy worked to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act 1990.
“I think we lost something”
That willingness to have a conversation, compromise, reach an agreement seems elusive these days, he worries.
“I don’t like to doubt, but I think we’ve lost something,” he said. “I can’t get my hands on it, but we’re just not quite where we should be as the greatest democracy in the world. And I don’t know how you can fix it, but I still hope it is will.” a change in my life. “
When Dole’s diagnosis of cancer was announced in February, President Joe Biden stopped by to visit the apartment, brought several of his grandchildren, and stayed for an hour and a half. The two men served together in the Senate for nearly 24 years – Biden as a Democrat from Delaware, Dole as a Republican from Kansas.
“A great, kind, upright, decent person,” said Dole of Biden. Even so, he said the new president is leaning too far to the left these days and he is scolding Biden for the Keystone pipeline. “I asked him and said, ‘Why did you close this pipeline in (South) Dakota?'”