What You Should Know About Bob Dole at 95

Combat veteran, longtime lawmaker and former presidential candidate

Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., right, and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., introduce CIA Director Mike Pompeo, nominee for secretary of State, during his Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing in April. Dole turned 95 Sunday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Sen. Bob Dole turned 95 Sunday. The Kansas Republican — a decorated veteran who was grievously wounded in World War II —  served in Congress for more than 35 years and was his party’s presidential nominee in 1996.

Here are a few facts about one of the nation’s legendary lawmakers:

  • Dole was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star with an oak leaf cluster for his combat service in Italy with the 10th Mountain Division during World War II. His wounds required more than three years of treatment. His right arm was permanently disabled. As a lawmaker, he was routinely seen clutching a pen, which dissuaded people he greeted from trying to shake that hand.
  • In 1950, Dole was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives and two years later, he began an eight-year run as prosecuting attorney for Russell County.
  • In 1960, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served four terms. 
  • Dole was elected to the Senate in 1968 and served until 1996. He was the longest-serving Senate majority leader until Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., surpassed that record on June 12.
  • Dole was President Gerald Ford’s running mate in 1976, an election they lost to the Democratic ticket of Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale. He was his party’s presidential nominee in 1996 but was defeated by President Bill Clinton.
  • He played an instrumental role in bringing the National World War II Memorial to Washington and still personally greets veterans there on some days.
  • Clinton awarded Dole the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1997, praising his 1996 opponent for “championing the interests of his state's hardworking farmers, helping the disabled through leading the way to the Americans with Disabilities Act, extending the Voting Rights Act, playing a key role in the National Commission on Social Security Reform, and always, always supporting the leadership of our country.”
  • In 2007, Dole headed a bipartisan commission with former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala that looked into ways to improve the military’s health care system.
  • The 2008 World Food Prize was awarded to Dole and former South Dakota Sen. George McGovern “for their inspired, collaborative leadership that has encouraged a global commitment to school feeding and enhanced school attendance and nutrition for millions of the world’s poorest children, especially girls.”
  • He was honored by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in November 2016 for “a lifetime of compassion that has made a difference in countless animal lives.”
  • Dole received the Congressional Gold Medal on Jan. 17 this year “in recognition for his service to the nation as a soldier, legislator, and statesman.” The ceremony was attended by President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, as well as many current and former lawmakers.

Watch: What You Didn’t See at Dole’s Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony


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