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Former US Senator and GOP Stalwart Bob Dole Dead at 98

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Senator Bob Dole speaks at a rally at Temple Christian School in Ventura, California | Former US Senator and GOP Stalwart Bob Dole Dead at 98 | featured

Republican stalwart and former US Senator Bob Dole died peacefully in his sleep Sunday. He was ninety-eight years of age.

Born in Russell, Kansas on July 22, 1923, Dole lived a long life centered on politics in his middle and later years. Doctors diagnosed Bob Dole with stage 4 lung cancer earlier this year.

RELATED: Long Time Senator Bob Dole Says He’s Been Diagnosed With Stage 4 Cancer

Bob Dole, 98

Senator Bob Dole smiles as he meets people at a rally at Temple Christian School | Bob Dole

In a statement, the Dole family expressed thanks to the millions of well-wishers for their patriarch. “Thank you for the outpouring of love over the last year, it continues to sustain us as we grieve the loss of the precious man we knew as husband and father.

Bob Dole was never only ours – we shared him with Americans from every walk of life and every political persuasion. He dedicated his life to serving you, and so it is heartwarming that so many honor him at his passing,” the statement said. 

The former Senator showed remarkable resilience throughout his life. In World War II, Dole got wounded and lost the use of his right arm.

However, he managed to adapt to his disability and emerged from the war alive.  In his memoir, “One Soldier’s Story,” Dole wrote that adversity helped him learn. “Adversity can be a harsh teacher.

But its lessons often define our lives. As much as we may wish that we could go back and relive them, do things differently, make better, wiser decisions, we can’t change history.

War is like that. You can rewrite it, attempt to infuse it with your own personal opinions, twist or spin it to make it more palatable, but eventually, the truth will come out,” he wrote. 

Three-Time Presidential Candidate

The loss of his right arm’s function led him to re-assess his future as a physician. With limited mobility, he decided to become a lawyer instead.

“Maybe I couldn’t use my hand, I told myself, but I could develop my mind,” he wrote in “The Doles: Unlimited Partners”. He enrolled at the University of Arizona in Tucson using the GI Bill. A year later, he transferred to Washburn University in Kansas, where he graduated in 1952.

Bob Dole started his political career by winning a Kansas city legislature seat. In 1960, he moved from the local legislature to Washington DC as a rookie congressman.

He stayed in the House until he won a seat in the Senate in 1968. By 1980, he was ready to take the leadership role in the GOP. However, Dole lost the Republican primary in 1980 against Ronald Reagan.

Then, he lost the primary again in 1998 to George HW Bush. Finally, he got the GOP nomination in 1996. However, he lost the general election to Democrat Bill Clinton. 

Dole, Dole, Dole

Bob Dole’s early campaigns featured a festive atmosphere. According to the Dole Institute, he featured singers playing the ukulele.

Meanwhile, women who called themselves “Dolls for Dole” handed out cups of Dole pineapple juice. No wonder that after winning a House seat, Dole chose to serve on the House Agriculture Committee.

This was in line with his pledge to support farmers’ interests. This includes pushing for legislation promoting rural electrification and soil conservation. 

The former US presidential candidate also considered two votes as his most important ones. The first was his vote in favor of the Civil Rights Act.

The other was his support for the Voting Rights Act as his most important vote. His election stint in the US Senate lasted 28 years. 

Last Run For President

In 1996, Bob Dole retired from the Senate. He aimed to devote his full attention to his campaign for the presidency. He ran with former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Jack Kemp as his running mate.

However, they fell to the Democrat tandem of Bill Clinton and Al Gore. “When I delivered my concession speech that evening, I meant it when I said, ‘Tomorrow is the first day of my life when I have nothing to do,” Dole wrote in one of his memoirs. 

Watch the NBC News video reporting that former Senator Bob Dole dies at 98:

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