Remembering Sen. Bob Dole

By Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Melissa Macaya and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 4:46 PM ET, Fri December 10, 2021
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11:14 a.m. ET, December 10, 2021

NOW: Funeral for Sen. Bob Dole begins at Washington National Cathedral

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A funeral service for the late Kansas Republican Sen. Bob Dole is being held at Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC.

Dole, who had announced in February he was being treated for advanced lung cancer, died on Sunday.

Along with family members and close friends, President Biden and members of Congress are attending the event. Biden, former Sen. Pat Roberts, former Sen. Tom Daschle and Dole's daughter, Robin Dole, are expected to offer tributes. Lee Greenwood will also perform.

After the funeral service, Dole's motorcade is expected to pause at the National World War II Memorial, according to the schedule.

Actor Tom Hanks and Savannah Guthrie of NBC's "Today" will deliver remarks at the memorial site. Former North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole, the late senator's wife, will lay a wreath in honor of her late husband.

2:49 p.m. ET, December 10, 2021

A look back at Bob Dole's life and career

From CNN's Veronica Stracqualursi

Bob Dole, while running for president in 1996, attends a campaign rally in Freeland, Michigan.
Bob Dole, while running for president in 1996, attends a campaign rally in Freeland, Michigan. (Reuters)

Bob Dole, a Republican Party stalwart and presidential hopeful who espoused a brand of plain-spoken conservatism as one of Washington's most recognizable political figures throughout the latter half of the 20th century, died Sunday.

"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," according to a statement from his family.

He had announced in February that he was being treated for advanced lung cancer. President Biden visited Dole shortly after learning of the diagnosis.

Biden on Sunday released a statement mourning Dole.

"Bob was an American statesman like few in our history. A war hero and among the greatest of the Greatest Generation. And to me, he was also a friend whom I could look to for trusted guidance, or a humorous line at just the right moment to settle frayed nerves," Biden said. "I will miss my friend. But I am grateful for the times we shared, and for the friendship Jill and I and our family have built with Liddy and the entire Dole family."

Dole became a US senator in 1969 and held the office until 1996. Here, Dole is joined by President Gerald Ford, who was in Wichita, Kansas, to give Dole a re-election boost in 1974. Dole would later become Ford's running mate in the 1976 presidential election.
Dole became a US senator in 1969 and held the office until 1996. Here, Dole is joined by President Gerald Ford, who was in Wichita, Kansas, to give Dole a re-election boost in 1974. Dole would later become Ford's running mate in the 1976 presidential election. (Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

Arriving in Washington at the dawn of the Kennedy administration, Dole would serve for 27 years as a US senator from Kansas, including two stints as the Senate majority leader, though he might be best known for his unsuccessful run as the Republican presidential nominee against Bill Clinton in 1996, his third attempt at the White House. He also served as President Gerald Ford's running mate in 1976 after Nelson Rockefeller declined to stay on as vice president.

Early in his Senate career, he was labeled a "hatchet man" by his critics and drew national attention for his vehement defense of President Richard Nixon throughout the Watergate scandal. He considered Nixon a friend and a mentor — later eulogizing Nixon at his funeral in 1994 as the "most durable public figure of our time." In a notable departure from his sour public image, he choked up at the end of his remarks.

Dole and his wife, Elizabeth, enjoy a carnival ride at the Maryland State Fair in 1976.
Dole and his wife, Elizabeth, enjoy a carnival ride at the Maryland State Fair in 1976. (Charles Harrity/AP)

But in taking up the mantle of GOP leader in the Senate, Dole's reputation became that of a whip smart lawmaker and a tough negotiator willing to work across the aisle with Democrats on issues such as Social Security reform, the Americans with Disabilities Act and landmark nutrition legislation.

"By all rights, he and I should have had a lousy relationship," former Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle, who was the Senate's top Democrat during Dole's second stint as majority leader, said in a 2000 speech. "The fact that we did not was due to Bob Dole — to his civility, to his pragmatism, to his quick wit and self-effacing humor, and to his love of this country and to this United States Senate. His sense of fairness and decency is a standard for which everyone in public life should aim."

Dole works the phones from his office balcony at the US Capitol in 1996.
Dole works the phones from his office balcony at the US Capitol in 1996. (Mike Theiler/Reuters)

In his book "What It Takes" about the 1988 election, journalist Richard Ben Cramer described Dole as a Senate leader who was always ready with a joke and a greeting and was "never more cheerful, more at peace, than he was in the wee hours, when a deal was going down and he was waiting for someone to crack, while he drank a milkshake and told old stories in the Senate dining room."

Read the full story here.

10:17 a.m. ET, December 10, 2021

Dole's death prompted nostalgia for a bygone era sullied by Trump's GOP

Analysis from CNN's Gregory Krieg

The bipartisan outpouring of praise following the death on Sunday of Republican Bob Dole, the longtime Senate leader and former presidential nominee, mourned both a man and a more outwardly collegial era as Republicans drive the country toward another debt ceiling deadline crisis and party leadership downplays dangerous radicalism in its ranks.

The remembrances, though, often overlooked — perhaps, ironically, in the name of a bygone decency — Dole's complicated legacy.

The Kansas native, who suffered grievous wounds on the battlefield during World War II before becoming a titan of late 20th century American political life, was in many ways emblematic of the Republican Party's souring stew.

It was a narrow concession, though more than the vast majority of GOP officials would openly concede. For an aspirational Republican to take a hard stand against Trumpism today is an invitation to being run out of office or the party itself. Georgia's conservative Gov. Brian Kemp, for example, is expected to get a Trump-backed primary challenger on Monday, when former Sen. David Perdue plans to announce his candidacy, because of Kemp's unwillingness to kowtow to the former President's election lies.

The danger for Republicans in risking backlash from Trump has further complicated business on Capitol Hill, where Congress is facing a series of year-end challenges that GOP lawmakers are either fueling or refusing to help solve.

Only eight senators remain in office from when Dole carried the Republican standard into the 1996 presidential election, when he was handily defeated by the incumbent Democratic President Bill Clinton. On Sunday, Clinton was among the high-profile members of his party to honor an old rival.

"Bob Dole dedicated his entire life to serving the American people, from his heroism in World War II to the 35 years he spent in Congress. After all he gave in the war, he didn't have to give more. But he did," Clinton tweeted. "His example should inspire people today and for generations to come."

Read the full story here.

10:01 a.m. ET, December 10, 2021

Here's what President Biden said about Bob Dole's legacy

From CNN's Betsy Klein

President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the congressional tribute ceremony. "We meet here in the very heart of American democracy -- the Capitol of the United States of America -- to receive a hero of that democracy for a final time," Biden said.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the congressional tribute ceremony. "We meet here in the very heart of American democracy -- the Capitol of the United States of America -- to receive a hero of that democracy for a final time," Biden said. (Jonathan Ernst/Pool/Getty Images)

President Biden honored his friend and former colleague, the late Sen. Bob Dole, Thursday at a ceremony at the US Capitol, renewing his calls for democracy through unity.

He called Dole, with whom he served for 25 years, a “giant of our history” and “one of our greatest patriots,” citing his “persistence, courage, and conviction.”

The President harkened back to a time of bipartisanship as he described his “real” friendship with Dole.

“Bob and I, like many of us here, we disagreed on many things, but not on any of the fundamental things. We still found a way to work together. We genuinely respected one another as colleagues and as fellow Americans. It was real, it wasn’t fake, and we became great friends,” Biden said.

He read an excerpt of a message from Dole about leading with unity, as he made his own call for “unity and consensus.”

“The truth of the matter is, the only way forward for democracy is unity, consensus. The only way. May we follow his wisdom and his timeless truth to reach consensus on the basic fundamental principles we all agree on,” Biden said as he concluded his remarks Thursday.

9:57 a.m. ET, December 10, 2021

President Biden and actor Tom Hanks will deliver remarks at Bob Dole's funeral and tribute ceremony

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

(Stephen Voss for CNN)
(Stephen Voss for CNN)

A funeral service and tribute ceremony for the late Kansas Republican Sen. Bob Dole will be held in Washington, DC, today.

Dole, who had announced in February he was being treated for advanced lung cancer, died on Sunday.

The funeral service at Washington National Cathedral will begin today at 11 a.m. ET, according to a schedule of the arrangements. Along with family members and close friends, President Biden is expected to attend. Biden, former Sen. Pat Roberts, former Sen. Tom Daschle and Dole's daughter, Robin Dole, are expected to offer tributes. Lee Greenwood will also perform.

About the funeral: It will be live-streamed onto large screens at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, and at 1:15 p.m. ET, Dole's motorcade is expected to pause at the memorial, according to the schedule. At the memorial on the National Mall, actor Tom Hanks and Savannah Guthrie of NBC's "Today" will deliver remarks. Former North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole, the late senator's wife, will lay a wreath in honor of her late husband.