Updated Dec 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan tributes flood in for "giant of the Senate" Bob Dole

Joe Biden and Bob Dole
Then-Vice President Joe Biden and former Sen. Bob Dole at an event put on by the World Food Program at which he was awarded the first “McGovern-Dole Leadership Award” in December 2013. Photo: Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call

Republican and Democratic politicians, including former Senate colleagues, are sharing condolences and memories commemorating the life of Bob Dole, who passed away at 98 on Sunday morning.

The big picture: Dole, the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, was the longest-serving Republican leader in the Senate until 2018, when current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell surpassed his record.

What former colleagues are saying: "Bob was an American statesman like few in our history. A war hero and among the greatest of the Greatest Generation," said President Joe Biden, who served alongside Dole in the Senate for nearly 24 years.

  • "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," said Biden, who paid a personal visit to Dole last February after his stage four cancer diagnosis. The White House also noted Sunday that the president and first lady Jill Biden had spoken by phone with Dole's wife, Elizabeth.
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) recalled that Dole had taken him "under his wing" when he first arrived in the Senate, calling the former senator a "best friend and mentor."
Dole and Grassley
Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole, left, and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) look out into the crowd at a "Dole for President" rally at Hy-Vee Foods corporate office in Des Moines on April 13. Photo: J. David Ake/AFP via Getty Images
  • “Whatever their politics, anyone who saw Bob Dole in action had to admire his character and his profound patriotism. Those of us who were lucky to know Bob well ourselves admired him even more," McConnell said in a statement.
  • "A bright light of patriotic good cheer burned all the way from Bob’s teenage combat heroics through his whole career in Washington through the years since. It still shone brightly, undimmed, to his last days," McConnell added.
  • “Upon receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Senator Dole challenged us ‘not to question American ideals or replace them, but to act worthy of them.’ Senator Dole lived up to this challenge, devoting his entire life in service to the county he loved and to our cherished national values for which he fought," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement, after ordering the flags at the U.S. Capitol to be lowered to half-staff in honor of Dole.
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) called Dole a "giant of the Senate," adding that his memories of working alongside him are some of his fondest in the Senate.
  • "Bob Dole served his country with courage on the battlefield, and with dignity in the Senate. Jane and I send our condolences to his family," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted.

What former presidents are saying: "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. His example should inspire people today and for generations to come," tweeted former President Bill Clinton, who defeated Dole in 1996 and continued to work with the former GOP Senate leader.

Clinton and Dole
Then-President Bill Clinton, left, and former Sen. Bob Dole, right, laugh during a press conference at the White House announcing $300 million in funding for the Global Food for Education Initiative on Dec. 28, 2000. Photo: Mario Tama/AFP via Getty Images
  • “Bob Dole was an American war hero and true patriot for our Nation," former President Donald Trump said in a statement.
  • Former President Barack Obama on Sunday memorialized Dole as a "war hero, a political leader, and a statesman — with a career and demeanor harkening back to a day when members of the Greatest Generation abided by a certain code, putting country over party."
  • "His sharp wit was matched only by his integrity, and he lived his life in a way that made it clear just how proud he was to be an American, and how committed he was to making this country everything he knew it could be," Obama added in the statement.
  • “This good man represented the finest of American values,” former President George W. Bush said in a statement. “He defended them in uniform during World War II. He advanced them in the United States Senate. And he lived them out as a father, husband, and friend.
  • "Our entire family benefitted from that friendship, including my father. I will always remember Bob’s salute to my late dad at the Capitol, and now we Bushes salute Bob and give thanks for his life of principled service,” the 43rd president added, remarking on Dole’s tribute to former President George H.W. Bush.

What Kansas lawmakers are saying: Republican Sen. Roger Marshall commemorated Dole as "an American hero, a statesman of the highest order and one of the greatest legislators of all time."

  • "Throughout Sen. Dole’s life, he exemplified the ideals, sacrifice and tenacity of the Greatest Generation," Republican Sen. Jerry Moran tweeted, adding that Dole was a "statesman who treated others with respect & kindness."

What other current and former lawmakers are saying: "Senator Bob Dole was a truly great man who lived an extraordinary life of service to America and he will be deeply missed by all of us who had the privilege to know him," former Vice President Mike Pence tweeted.

  • "When I think of the Greatest Generation, I think of Senator Bob Dole—a man who dedicated his life to serving our country. Rest In Peace, my friend," Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) wrote on Twitter.
  • “Bob Dole was a soldier, a legislator, & a statesman. He always stood for what was just & right," former House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted in a statement. "I was honored to award him the Congressional Gold Medal & I’ll always be grateful for his service to our country.”
In Photos:
Pence, Trump, Dole and Ryan
Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, center, is presented with the Congressional Gold Medal by then-House Speaker Paul Ryan as then-President Donald Trump, center left, applauds during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 17, 2018. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bill Clinton shakes hands with Elizabeth Dole and Bob Dole
Former President Barack Obama shakes hands with former Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) and former Sen. Bob Dole at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2017, during the inauguration ceremony of Donald Trump. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Mitch McConnell greets Bob Dole
Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell greets former Sen. Bob Dole during a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in the Capitol rotunda on Jan. 17, 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Nancy Pelosi gives Bob Dole a kiss on the head
Nancy Pelosi greets Bob Dole during a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in the Capitol rotunda to honor Dole as a "soldier, legislator and statesman," in January 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Editor's note: This story will continue to be updated as more remembrances are shared.

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