Bob Dole

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Bob Dole

Robert Joseph Dole (born July 22, 1923) is best known as a former Republican United States Senate Majority Leader and Senator from Kansas. He was also the unsuccessful Republican nominee for President in the 1996 election, losing to incumbent Bill Clinton.


Early years

Dole was born in Russell, Kansas to Doran Ray Dole and his wife Bina Talbot. He graduated from what is now known as Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas with an undergraduate degree and law degree in 1952. He also attended the University of Kansas from 1941 - 1943 and the University of Arizona from 1948 - 1949. During his years in college, Dole was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.

During World War II, Dole served as a combat infantry officer with the U.S. 10th Mountain Division in Italy. He was wounded twice and hospitalized for thirty-nine months. He received two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star. He eventually lost almost all use of his right arm due to his war injuries.


Dole was admitted to the bar and commenced the practice of law in his hometown in 1952.

He ran for office and was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives, serving a two-year term ending in 1953.

He became county attorney of Russell County, performing in this capacity until 1961. In 1960, Dole was elected as a Republican to the United States House of Representatives for the 87th Congress and to three succeeding Congresses, spanning from January 3, 1961 to January 3, 1969.

U.S. Senate

In 1968 he was elected to the United States Senate, and was re-elected in 1974, 1980, 1986, and 1992, until resigning on June 11, 1996 to focus his efforts on his Presidential campaign. While in the Senate he also served as chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1971 until 1973.

His roles in Senate politics include:

  • Chairman of the Committee on Finance (1981 - 1985);
  • Special Committee on Security and Cooperation in Europe (1985 - 1987);
  • Majority Leader (1985 - 1987) and (1995 - 1996); and
  • Minority Leader (1987 - 1995).

Presidential politics

In 1976 Dole ran unsuccessfully for Vice President of the United States on a ticket headed by Gerald Ford, replacing incumbent Vice President Nelson Rockefeller who many Republicans regarded as too moderate. He also ran unsuccessfully for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1980 and made a more serious bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, losing to then-Vice President George H.W. Bush. The contest between the two was bitter, although they differed little on issues. At one point when a newscaster was conducting a conversation with both of them he asked Dole if he had anything to say to Bush. "Tell him to stop lying about my record," he replied.

Dole was the early frontrunner for the GOP nomination in the 1996 presidential race, and was expected to represent the party establishment against the more conservative Senator Phil Gramm of Texas. However, Gramm's thunder was stolen by commentator Pat Buchanan, who upset Dole to win the New Hampshire primary, with former Tennessee governor Lamar Alexander finishing a strong third. Publisher Steve Forbes also entered the race, paying for a stream of negative ads out of his personal funds. The crowded Republican field numbered at least eight serious candidates.

Dole secured the nomination, but had been forced to spend more than he had planned, and until the convention in San Diego faced federal limits on campaign spending. He hoped to use his long experience in Senate procedures to maximize publicity from the rare positioning of a Senate Majority Leader against an incumbent president, but was stymied by Senate Democrats. On May 16, 1996 he resigned his seat to focus on the campaign.

The incumbent, Bill Clinton, had no serious primary opposition, and had rebounded in popularity partly by portraying Congressional Republicans as extremists. Dole refused to make Clinton's character a campaign issue, instead promising a 15% across-the-board reduction in income tax rates, and making former Congressman and supply side hero Jack Kemp his running mate; these, however, failed to inspire the voting population. Dole also found himself criticized from both the left and the right within the Republican Party over the convention platform, as well as the additional challenge of eccentric billionaire Ross Perot's entry into the race.

In the event, Clinton won the election handily, taking 379-159 Electoral College votes and 49.2% of the popular vote against Dole's 40.7%. It was widely acknowledged to be Dole's last political campaign, and he entered retirement at age 73 as the elder statesman of the GOP.


Dole has worked part-time for a Washington, DC law firm, 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 and Pepsi-Cola, and as an occasional political commentator on the popular American interview program Larry King Live. He was for a short time a commentator opposite Bill Clinton on CBS's 60 Minutes. On the Larry King show he had a heated exchange with Democratic presidential primary candidate Wesley Clark in which he correctly predicted that Clark would lose the New Hampshire primary and other primaries.

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 humorousness. President Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in early 1997 for his service in the military and his political career. He also received the American Patriot Award on December 3, 2004 for his lifelong dedication to America and his service in World War II.

In December of 2004, Dole had a hip replacement operation, which required that he received blood thinners. One month after the surgery, while in his Watergate apartment, he felt light-headed and fell. Doctors told him that the blood thinners had caused internal bleeding and light-headedness.

A quick trip to the hospital and a few stitches later, he was taken back home, but he felt ill, and had to be retaken to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where it was determined that he was bleeding inside his head. He spent 40 days at Walter Reed, and when he was released, his "good" arm, the left, was basically unusable. He told a reporter that he needed help to handle the simplest of tasks, since both of his arms are currently injured. He undergoes physical therapy for his left shoulder once a week, but doctors have told him that he may not regain total use of his left arm.

Dole is currently special counsel at the Washington, DC lobbying firm of Aaron Woo. On 2005-04-12, Bob Dole released his biography One Soldier's Story: A Memoir (ISBN 0060763418), which talks of his World War II experiences and his battle to survive his war injuries.

Personal life

Dole married Phyllis Holden, an occupational therapist at a Veterans Hospital, in Battle Creek, Michigan in 1948. His daughter Robin was born in 1954. Dole and Phyllis divorced in 1972.

Dole is married to Senator Elizabeth Dole, nee Hanford of North Carolina in 1975. Elizabeth ran an unsuccessful campaign for the Republican nomination for President in 2000 and was elected to the United States Senate 2002.

External links

This article incorporates facts obtained from the public domain Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. [1] (

Preceded by:
Frank Carlson
United States Senator from Kansas
Succeeded by:
Sheila Frahm
Preceded by:
Spiro Agnew
Republican Party Vice Presidential candidate
1976 (lost)
Succeeded by:
George H. W. Bush
Preceded by:
Russell B. Long
Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance
Succeeded by:
Robert W. Packwood
Preceded by:
Howard Baker
Senate Majority Leader
Succeeded by:
Robert Byrd
Preceded by:
Robert Byrd
Senate Minority Leader
Succeeded by:
Tom Daschle
Preceded by:
George J. Mitchell
Senate Majority Leader
Succeeded by:
Trent Lott
Preceded by:
George H. W. Bush
Republican Party Presidential candidate
1996 (lost)
Succeeded by:
George W. Bush

Template:End boxde:Bob Dole fr:Bob Dole ja:ボブ・ドール nl:Bob Dole no:Bob Dole


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