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Remembering Sen. Bob Dole

Tom Hanks shares the lessons he learned from Bob Dole

What we covered here

  • Bob Dole, former Senate majority leader, World War II veteran and Republican presidential nominee, was honored today at a funeral service and tribute ceremony in Washington, DC. 
  • President Biden, family members and former lawmakers remembered Dole’s legacy of public service, with Biden calling him a “giant of our history.”
  • Dole died Sunday at age 98. He had announced in February that he was being treated for advanced lung cancer.

Our live coverage has ended. See how the events unfolded in the posts below.

13 Posts

Joint Chiefs chairman honors Dole for "selfless service" to the US

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, paid homage to late Sen. Bob Dole and his military service, calling him an “incredible example of a lifetime of selfless service to our nation.”

“Sen. Dole’s commitment to this democracy was unwavering,” Milley said during remarks at the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.

Milley spoke about Dole’s service during World War ||, in which he was gravely injured.

“He suffered, he endured and he showed us all what hope can do,” Milley said.

He continued: “He fought and, more importantly, he lived for an idea: An idea that says a kid from Kansas, some small town, who could make it through the Depression could go to college, play sports, become an officer in the Army, go to law school, run for Congress, become a senator and run three times for president. He fought and lived. He fought and lived for that idea. And he built this monument to the other 16 million who fought and lived for that idea. When others would have given up, Bob Dole never did.”

Tom Hanks remembers the lessons to learn from Bob Dole

Actor Tom Hanks delivered remarks to remember former Sen. Bob Dole at the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.

“There are many great lessons to take away from Bob Dole’s life: Go to the other guy’s office so you could decide when the meeting is over, and get up and walk out. Speak straight, even when it gets you in trouble, because it will. But at least everyone will know how you stand and what you stand for. And always plan not just to win, but win big. Yes, you may try and fail, but you will not fail to try,” Hanks said.

Earlier today, Dole was honored at a funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral.

The late senator was a World War II veteran who enlisted in the Army in 1942 at the age of 19 and was seriously wounded while trying to carry a fellow soldier to safety.

He advocated for the nation’s veterans throughout his career, and received the Purple Heart twice and two Bronze Stars with an oak leaf cluster for his service in World War II.

CNN’s Maegan Vazquez contributed reporting to this post.

Sen. Bob Dole is being honored at the World War II Memorial, a monument he helped build 

A ceremony in honor of late Sen. Bob Dole is taking place at the national World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.

Actor Tom Hanks and Savannah Guthrie of NBC’s “Today” delivered remarks, and former North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole, the late senator’s wife, will lay a wreath in honor of her late husband.

“This memorial stands in this rightful site because Bob Dole remembered,” Hanks said with the memorial behind him. “He remembered the nearly half a million souls who unlike him, never came home from the second World War. He remembered the years of service the surviving Americans had invested. Yet, this memorial was not built only for the generation it honors any more than it was erected to crow of their victory.”

Dole was a World War II veteran who enlisted in the Army in 1942 at the age of 19 and was seriously wounded while trying to carry a fellow soldier to safety. He would go on to spend 39 grueling months in and out of hospitals, recuperating from his near-fatal injuries, which left his right arm permanently disabled and his left arm minimally functional.

“Bob Dole called this a memorial to peace so that all generations would remember that peace is achieved in shared labor, by shared sacrifice, by volunteering for the shared duty if peace is to be won and if we Americans are to continue our pursuit of a more perfect nation if an imperfect world,” Hanks continued.

Hanks said that Dole “came to this plaza often, to remember” and talk with “veterans like himself.”

Dole, who advocated for the nation’s veterans throughout his career, received the Purple Heart twice and two Bronze Stars with an oak leaf cluster for his service in World War II.

His injuries changed the trajectory of his life, leading him to pursue a law degree and a career in politics. He served a term in the Kansas House of Representatives and later for eight years as Russell County prosecutor. Dole was elected to the US House to represent Kansas in Washington in 1960, serving four terms before he was elected to the US Senate in 1968.

After leaving public office, Dole served as the national chairman of the World War II Memorial Campaign, helping to raise millions to construct the first memorial dedicated to all World War II veterans. In his 90s — as one of the longest-living and most prominent members of the Greatest Generation — he spent his Saturdays greeting his fellow veterans as they visited the memorial in Washington after it opened to the public in 2004.

CNN’s Maegan Vazquez contributed reporting to this post.

Robin Dole remembered her father as a "generous person" who always wanted to help others

Robin Dole remembered her father, Bob, as a “generous person,” saying he was a “giver, not a taker” and “cared more about others than he did about himself.”

“He told me, he set a personal goal to help at least one person every day of his life. Then he said, ‘I’m not sure I’ve been able to meet my goal.’ I said, ‘dad, you’ve got to be kidding. Some days you help one person and other days you help 40,000 people. I think you’ve met and exceeded your goal,’” she told those attending his funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral. “There is no one he helped more than me. He’s always been there for me, through thick and through thin. He always had my back, even when I made mistakes. And believe me, I made quite a few. He believes in giving second chances, and I know that firsthand. He was my rock.”

The last years of the former senator’s life were a gift, she added.

“I’ve felt so fortunate that I was able to spend hundreds of hours with my dad and talk to him almost every single night on the phone. We talked about everything under the sun. He told me things I never knew. He asked about my life, about my friends’ lives,” she said.

Biden: Dole understood compromise and was "deeply concerned" about US divisions

President Biden touches the casket of late Sen. Bob Dole.

President Biden said though late Sen. Bob Dole “relished a good political fight,” he always put country first and was “deeply concerned” about division in the United States.

“He understood that we’re all part of something much bigger than ourselves, and he really did, I felt. He really understood it. And a compromise isn’t a dirty word. It’s the cornerstone of democracy. Consensus is requiring in a democracy to get anything done. That’s how you get things done,” Biden said during a tribute to Dole at the Washington National Cathedral.

“Again, listen to Bob Dole’s words, not mine. I’m quoting him again: ‘I learned that it’s difficult to get anything done unless you can compromise, not your principles but your willingness to see the other side. Those who suggest that compromise is a sign of weakness misunderstand the fundamental strength of democracy,’” Biden said about Dole’s final column in USA Today, which he finished on Nov. 23 and was published Dec. 6.

Biden continued, discussing how Dole expressed concern over divisions within America in the column:

“In his final days, Bob made it clear that he was deeply concerned about the threat to American democracy — not from foreign nations, but from the division tearing us apart from within. And this soul reminded us, and I quote, ‘Too many of us have sacrificed too much in defending freedom from foreign adversaries to allow our democracy to crumble…under a state of infighting that grows more unacceptable day by day,’” Biden said.



Biden on his relationship with Bob Dole: "We disagreed, but we were never disagreeable with one another"

Then-Vice President Joe Biden and Bob Dole talk at an event in Washington, DC, in 2013.

President Biden, who noted he served alongside Bob Dole for 25 years in the Senate, used a portion of his tribute to highlight their bipartisan relationship, calling him a “master of the Senate.”

“We disagreed, but we were never disagreeable with one another. Not one time that I can think of,” Biden said during a funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral.

“I found Bob to be a man of principle, pragmatism and enormous integrity. He came into the arena with certain guiding principles,” he continued. “To begin with, devotion to country, to fair play, to decency, to dignity, to honor, to literally attempting to find the common good.”

The President went on to discuss some of the causes that Dole worked on, including creating a federal holiday in the name of Martin Luther King Jr.

“He wanted government to work, to work for folks like him, who came up the hard way,” he said.



Biden says Bob Dole was a "genuine hero" in tribute

President Biden delivered a tribute to Bob Dole during the late senator’s funeral, calling him a “patriot.”

Biden said he and Dole were friends for 50 years, and his story was “a very American one.”

He was born in a three-room house and was 21 when he was injured during World War II, Biden said, suffering in and out of consciousness in a foxhole for nine hours.

“There’s something that connects that past and present, wartime and peace, then and now — the courage, the grit, the goodness and the grace of 2nd lieutenant named Bob Dole, who became congressman Dole, Sen. Dole, statesman, husband, father, friend, colleague, and a word often overused but not here, a genuine hero,” Biden said.



Unity on display among lawmakers during Dole funeral

From left, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attend Dole's funeral on Friday morning.

Lawmakers and public figures are sitting in the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, to pay their respects to the late Sen. Bob Dole.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sat in between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, while Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar was seen sitting next to GOP Sen. Ted Cruz.

Former Vice President Mike Pence is also in attendance in the front of the cathedral near former President Bill Clinton.

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

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.

A look back at Bob Dole's life and career

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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 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.

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

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.


Sen. Bob Dole's funeral service set to take place at Washington National Cathedral