- Dole said there was no doubt Trump lost his race for re-election – narrowly but fair and square.
- On the current political environment, he says, “I think we’ve lost something.
- Dole described Biden as “a wonderful, kind, honest and decent person.”
Bob Dole turns 98 on Thursday and is battling lung cancer, but he’s still outspoken about what’s going on in Washington that he’s once helped lead – from the Keystone pipeline to the need to protect the obstruction of the Senate.
“Both sides are using it,” the former Senate Majority Leader noted of parliamentary rule, then praised “the guy from West Virginia” who defends it. It would be Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. Dole decided on the spot that he would like to meet Manchin – to invite him for a chat, no big agenda, beyond party lines. Like the good old times.
“I keep pretty busy,” Dole said in a 45-minute interview in his apartment in the Watergate complex, and he has more things he wants to do. He hopes to regain enough strength to make “one more trip home” to Kansas to visit the Veterans Medical Center in Topeka and meet with students from the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. .
When he blows out the candles on his birthday cake – at a celebration hosted by his wife, former North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole, and joined by a dozen friends – he will make a wish of ” pretty good health “for a while. longer.
Robert Joseph Dole was not short of health problems, starting with the serious injuries suffered on a battlefield in Italy during World War II. They cost the 22-year-old second lieutenant of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division the use of his right arm and almost his life. Earlier this year, he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and began a regimen of chemotherapy “which was about to kill me”.
Now he is receiving immunotherapy instead, which is less effective in fighting the disease but easier for him to tolerate. The day after treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, he rested in a hospital chair, using oxygen, his breathing at times labored but his mind clear and memory vivid.
Dole has held many important positions in Washington politics. He was a member of the House and chairman of the Republican National Committee. A senator and, ultimately, the leader of the majority. A running mate for Vice-President (as Gerald Ford’s running mate in 1976) and, after his third run for the highest office, the presidential candidate, in 1996.
A Trumper, but ‘Trumped’
He was one of the few alumni of the mainstream Republican establishment to back Donald Trump in 2016 and the only former presidential candidate to attend the convention that appointed Trump. In a split with the 45th president, Dole said there was no doubt Trump lost his race for reelection in 2020 – narrowly perhaps but fair and square.
“He lost the election, and I regret it, but they did,” Dole said. “He raced Rudy Giuliani across the country, citing fraud. He has never had the slightest fraud in all of the lawsuits he has filed and the statements he has made.”
“I’m a Trumper,” Dole said at one point during the conversation. But he added to another, “I’m sort of Trumped, though.”
In his day, Dole was known for his quick wit and keen partisan spirit, defending President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal and controversially citing “Democratic Wars” during the Vice Presidential Debate in 1976. His tone is now softer, and the proudest achievements he is cited for are those he has earned in partnership with the Democrats.
He and New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan forged a bipartisan compromise to extend the solvency of the Social Security system in 1983, and he and Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy worked to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.
“I think we have lost something”
That willingness to have a conversation, to compromise, to come to an agreement seems elusive these days, he worries.
“I hate to guess, but I think we’ve lost something,” he said. “I can’t get a hold of it, but we’re just not where we should be, as the world’s biggest democracy. And I don’t know how you fix it, but I still hope it there will be a change in my life. “
When Dole’s cancer diagnosis was announced in February, President Joe Biden came by the apartment to visit him, bringing several of his grandchildren and staying for an hour and a half. The two men served together in the Senate for nearly 24 years – Biden as Democrat from Delaware, Dole as Republican from Kansas.
“A great, kind, honest and decent person,” Dole said of Biden. Even so, he said the new president is leaning too much to the left these days, and he berated Biden about the Keystone pipeline. “I asked him, I said, ‘Why did you shut down this pipeline in (South) Dakota? “”