Bob Dole was a United States Senator to Kansas from 1969 to 1996, where he served part of that time as Senate Majority Leader.
WASHINGTON – Bob Dole, a long-time former senator and 1996 Republican presidential candidate, announced on Thursday that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.
Dole, 97, said in a short statement that he was recently diagnosed and would start treatment on Monday.
“While I certainly have some hurdles to overcome, I also know that I join millions of Americans who face significant health challenges,” he said.
Dole received an immediate surge of sympathy, prayers and good wishes from all walks of life.
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, Democrat, called Dole a friend and tweeted her wishes for a speedy recovery. Kansas Senator Jerry Moran, a Republican who occupies the seat that Dole once did, expressed his sadness over the cancer diagnosis and offered his prayers. Freshman Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall, who received Dole’s approval running last year and described him as a mentor, said he didn’t know “a man with a bigger heart”.
Retired Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, a Republican, predicted that Dole would fight cancer “with his usual courage and determination.”
“We know cancer is tough, but Bob Dole is harder,” Roberts said in a statement.
Dole, from Russell, Kansas, represented the state in Congress for nearly 36 years before stepping down from the Senate in 1996 to challenge Democratic President Bill Clinton. Dole had unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination in 1980 and 1988, and was vice-president to President Gerald Ford in 1976, when Ford lost to Democrat Jimmy Carter.
After his last run for office in 1996, Dole continued to be involved in Republican politics, offering endorsements and commentary on public issues. He was known throughout his congressional career for both his sharp tongue and his skills in making legislative deals.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a moderate Republican, tweeted that Dole is “a true American patriot and a great statesman.”
Dole was a driving force behind the WWII memorial on the National Mall, speaking with emotion when it opened in 2004 to tens of thousands of other veterans in the ’80s and’ 90s, calling it ” our last meeting ”.
He served with Clinton after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 as co-chair of a scholarship fund for the families of the victims. He received a Congressional Gold Medal in 2018 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1997 for his public service.
Dole overcame crippling war wounds suffered near the end of World War II to forge his long political career. Charging a German position in northern Italy in 1945, Dole was hit by a shell fragment that crushed two vertebrae and paralyzed his arms and legs. The young army platoon leader spent three years recovering in a hospital but never resumed the use of his right hand.
Dole left the military as captain, but Congress in 2019 approved a promotion for him to the colonel. He also received two Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars for his military service.
A lawyer, Dole served at Kansas House and as a Russell County District Attorney before being elected to the United States House in 1960. He won a Senate seat in 1968 and became Majority Leader in the United States. Senate after the 1984 elections.
He led Republicans when they were in the minority for eight years, from 1987 to 1995, then again as majority leader from 1995. He remained the longest-serving Senate leader of the Republicans, at almost 11 and a half years, until the present minority. Chef Mitch McConnell broke the record in 2018.
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