Bob Dole

(b. 1923)

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(b. Russell, Kansas, 22 July 1923)

US; US Senator 1966–96, Senate majority leader 1985–6, 1995–6, Republican presidential candidate 1996 In the Second World War Dole served in Italy, where he was wounded, leaving him with permanent injuries including a withered arm. After the war, he attended the University of Kansas and Washburn University. He served in the Kansas House of Representatives 1951–3, and was County Attorney for Russell County, Kansas, 1953–9. He was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1960 and served four terms. In 1968 he was elected to the Senate and was re-elected in 1974, 1978, 1986, and 1992. In 1976 he was selected by President Ford as the vice-presidential candidate of the Republican Party. He performed poorly in the campaign, coming across as acerbic, especially in a debate with the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, Walter Mondale. His performance was regarded as one reason for the loss by a narrow margin of the Ford–Dole ticket to the victorious Carter-Mondale Democratic ticket. Nevertheless, he was highly regarded for his legislative skill in Congress and rose to prominence in the Republican Party. A bid for the Republican nomination for president in 1980 was unsuccessful, but in 1985 he became Senate Majority Leader. With the loss of control of the Senate by the Republicans as a result of the 1986 elections he became minority leader, until as a result of the Republican triumph in the 1994 Senate elections he became Senate majority leader again in 1995. In 1988 he sought the Republican nomination for president but lost to George Bush.

He held moderately conservative views on most issues. But his reputation was established above all as a pragmatic political fixer. With Republican victory in the 1994 congressional elections, he attempted to steer through the Senate the measures proposed in the Contract with America in the campaign in 1994. With a Democrat in the White House, however, gridlock developed over such matters as the budget, Medicare reform, and term limits.

Dole's high reputation in the halls of Congress was not matched by success as a campaigner. While he won his third bid for the Republican nomination for President in 1996, in the campaign against the incumbent Bill Clinton he appeared too much as a Washington insider, who lacked any overall vision, and who spoke in a flat monotone, with a streak of mean-spiritedness. He suffered also from the disadvantage that at the age of 73, he appeared to be too old. As a result, in spite of the strong Republican showing in the 1994 congressional elections, he lost the presidential race, receiving only 40.7 per cent of the votes against 49.2 per cent for Clinton. He has not sought any elected post since 1996.

Subjects: Politics.

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