Former Republican Senator Bob Dole, a figure in American politics and defeated White House candidate, died Sunday morning at the age of 98. The news sparked an influx of tributes for this “war hero”.
“[Bob Dole] was seen as a very big player in the Republican Party until the end of the XX th century. He is someone who has been widely associated with the religious right. He was fairly conservative, ”explains Rafael Jacob, political scientist and researcher associated with the Raoul-Dandurand chair in strategic and diplomatic studies at the University of Quebec in Montreal.
World War II veteran and three-time Republican nomination contestant Bob Dole finally entered the presidential race in 1996 but was defeated by Bill Clinton.
Shortly after the announcement of his death by the founding of his wife Elizabeth Dole, President Joe Biden hailed an “American statesman like there are few”, “a war hero”, but also “a friend. “Having” a sense of honor and infallible integrity “.
“The United States has lost one of its heroes, our family has lost its rock,” the Dole family said in a statement.
In February, he announced that he had advanced lung cancer.
“Senator Bob Dole was a great man who lived an extraordinary life in the service of America and he will be sadly missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him,” responded former Vice President Mike Pence.
Leftist Senator Bernie Sanders praised a man who had “served his country with courage on the battlefield, and with dignity in the Senate.”
Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi on Sunday ordered the flags of the Capitol to be half-masted, according to her chief of staff.
From “war hero” to senator
Born July 22, 1923, Robert Joseph Dole grew up in Russell, a small town in Kansas.
“Prior to his political career, he had a very distinguished military career,” says Jacob. Returning a medalist, but seriously injured from the Second World War, he underwent several operations for three years. He has to learn to walk again and eventually regains control of his body, except for his right arm.
He entered Congress in 1961, first as a representative, then as a senator from Kansas, beginning a 35-year parliamentary career. “He was the most powerful senator in the 1990s,” adds Mr. Jacob.
Bob Dole, dismissed by Ronald Reagan in 1980 in the battle for the Republican candidacy for the presidency, then by George Bush senior in 1988, persists and wins in 1996. But the outgoing Bill Clinton will easily win against the man 73 years old.
Within a week of his loss, he took to David Letterman’s late night show, where he gave a lengthy interview in which he laughed at himself and his loss. “It was always clear that he recognized his defeat, that he was a good player and that he wished the best for the president and for the future,” recalls Mr. Jacob.
This is quite a contrast to the defeat of Donald Trump, argues the political scientist. “He had a deep respect for American standards for even democracy,” he adds.
In the years following his defeat, he remained in the Republican Party. “In 2016, he became the only former candidate of the party to support Donald Trump,” said Mr. Jacob.
He continued to attack Democrats, notably fighting President Barack Obama’s health insurance reform plan.
“For someone his age, it was still relatively accessible to the public. He was still giving interviews just a few months ago. It is not all the ex-politicians who, so late in their life, were so little recluse, ”he adds.
Bob Dole was married to Elizabeth Dole, who herself had a distinguished political career as Secretary of Transportation, Secretary of Labor and Senator from North Carolina.
Outside of politics, he has advertised on television for Pepsi and Viagra.