Dec 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Former Sen. Bob Dole dies

Former Senator Bob Dole

Former Sen. Bob Dole in 2019. Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

Former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole passed away Sunday morning at the age of 98, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation announced in a statement.

Driving the news: Dole, a revered figure in U.S. politics and the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, served in the Senate for 27 years, including 11 years as GOP leader. Earlier this year he revealed he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

What they're saying: "It is with heavy hearts we announce that Senator Robert Joseph Dole died early this morning in his sleep," the statement read.

  • "At his death, at age 98, he had served the United States of America faithfully for 79 years."
  • A spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced flags would be lowered to half-staff at the Capitol to honor Dole's passing.
  • Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Monday that Dole will lie in state at the Capitol Rotunda on Thursday.

President Biden recalled his years-long personal friendship with Dole in a statement Sunday, as well as Dole's efforts to pass bipartisan legislation over the years.

  • "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. I will miss my friend," Biden said.
  • "Bob was a man to be admired by Americans. He had an unerring sense of integrity and honor. May God bless him, and may our nation draw upon his legacy of decency, dignity, good humor and patriotism for all time," he added.
  • On Sunday afternoon, Biden ordered the flags of the White House and all other public grounds, as well military stations and naval posts, be flown at half-staff until sunset on Dec. 9.

The big picture: Dole, a World War II veteran, was the longest-serving Republican leader in the Senate until 2018, when current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell surpassed his record, per the New York Times.

  • President Biden paid a personal visit to Dole last February after his cancer diagnosis, and the White House described Dole as a "close friend" of Biden, per AP.
  • This summer, Dole spoke about the 2020 election, stating that while he had supported Trump, Biden had won fairly.
  • During his varied political career, Dole ran for president three times, in 1980, 1988 and 1996, when at last he clinched the nomination but was defeated by Bill Clinton. He was the last WWII veteran to win his party's nomination for president, per the Times.
  • He was also President Gerald Ford's vice presidential running mate in 1976.
  • Dole endorsed Donald Trump in 2016 and was the only former Republican presidential nominee to attend the GOP convention that year, the Times wrote.
In Photos
Bob Dole salutes the casket of the late former President George H.W. Bush in 2018
Bob Dole salutes the casket of the late former President George H.W. Bush in 2018. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Obama chats with Dole
Former President Obama chats with Dole. Photo: Bill O'Leary/TWP
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi kisses former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi kisses former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole after he received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2017. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
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