TOPEKA, Kan. – Longtime U.S. lawmaker Bob Dole, a World War II hero who became a juggernaut in the Republican Party, has died at the age of 98.
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Dole’s death was confirmed Sunday by both the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and his family in separate statements.
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The sharp-tongued statesman announced in February 2021 that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, following a 36-year political career that shaped tax and foreign policies, bolstered farm and nutrition programs and introduced the field-leveling Americans with Disabilities Act.
Meanwhile, Dole’s 25-year Senate tenure made him his party’s longest-serving leader until Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell surpassed that record in June 2018, The New York Times reported.
In addition to his ADA success, Dole was most proud of helping to rescue Social Security in 1983, and of mustering a majority of reluctant Republicans to support President Bill Clinton’s unpopular plan to send American troops to Bosnia in 1995, the newspaper reported.
A Russell, Kansas native, Dole dedicated his later years to helping wounded military veterans, especially those of the Greatest Generation who served during World War II.
According to the Times, World War II actually directed Dole’s political future because he returned from serving in Italy in a full body cast and nearly paralyzed, dashing his former hopes of pursuing a surgical career.
Meanwhile, thousands of former soldiers gathered on the National Mall in 2004 for what Dole “our final reunion” as he dedicated the World War II Memorial there, the AP reported.
“Our ranks have dwindled,” he said then. “Yet if we gather in the twilight it is brightened by the knowledge that we have kept faith with our comrades.”
The former Senate majority leader mounted three unsuccessful bids for president, losing most recently when President Bill Clinton was reelected in 1996. He also sought the Republican party’s nomination in both 1980 and 1988, and was the 1976 GOP vice presidential candidate on the losing ticket with President Gerald Ford, NBC News reported.
According to the Times, Dole was named national Republican chairman under President Richard M. Nixon in the early 1970s; chairman of the Senate Finance Committee during Ronald Reagan’s presidency in the 1980s; and presidential standard-bearer during Newt Gingrich’s “revolution” of the mid-1990s, “when the Republicans captured the House for the first time in 40 years and upended the power dynamic on Capitol Hill.”
–The Associated Press contributed to this report.
American politician and Senator from Kansas, Robert Dole. Dole was the vice-presidential candidate of the Republican Party in the elections of 1976 and also the losing candidate in the 1996 presidential elections. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
L-R Counselor to the President Ed Meese Senators Robert Dole (R-KS) and Rudy Boschwitz (R-MN) chat about the budget meeting that they just finished in the Capitol Washington DC. January 9, 1985 (Photo by Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images)
Bob Dole makes an appearance at a game between the Houston Astros and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals won the game, 8-7.
Former Senator Bob Dole laughs during the National Nutrition Summit May 30, 2000 in Washington, D.C. The summit, the first in 31 years, focuses on the need to find new ways to deal with obesity, which affects one in four American adults. (Photo by Michael Smith/Newsmakers)
Former Senator and former Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole speaks to Republican demonstrators November 24, 2000 outside the Broward County Courthouse in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo by Robert King/Newsmakers)
Former senators Bob Dole, left, and George McGovern receive a standing ovation May 30, 2000 at the National Nutrition Summit in Washington, D.C. The summit, the first in 31 years, focuses on the need to find new ways to deal with obesity, which affects one in four American adults. (Photo by Michael Smith/Newsmakers)
Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) declares victory at campaign headquarters in her hometown with her husband Bob Dole November 5, 2002 in Salisbury, North Carolina. Elizabeth Dole defeated Democratic candidate Erskine Bowles. (Photo by Brian Gomsak/Getty Images)
U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney (R) swears in Senator Elizabeth Dole (L)(R-NC) as her husband, former Senator Bob Dole (C), looks on during a swearing in re-enactment January 7, 2003 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. This is the first day of the 108th Congress and members of the House of Representatives will be sworn in and leadership elections will be held. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Former Senator Bob Dole (R-KS) (R) listens to former New York Senator Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY) attend a pro-war rally April 10, 2003 in New York City. About 25,000 people attended the rally held near the site of the World Trade Center terrorist attack. (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)
Former U.S. Senator Bob Dole visits the new World War II Memorial April 27, 2004 in Washington, DC. The Memorial will open to the public later this week and be dedicated on Memorial Day. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Former President Bill Clinton (L) gives the inaugural Dole Lecture in Allen Fieldhouse as former Senator Bob Dole (R) listens on the University of Kansas campus on May 21, 2004 in Lawrence, Kansas. Former Senator Dole invited his 1996 Presidential opponant to give the lecture to kick off the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics. (Photo by Larry W. Smith/Getty Images)
Former Senator Bob Dole (L) and former President George H.W. Bush watch from the audience on night two of the Republican National Convention August 31, 2004 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Photo by Shaun Heasley/Getty Images)
(L-R) Former Senators Warren Rudman (R-NH) and George Mitchell (D-ME), Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) and her husband, former Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole (R-KS), and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) standing in front of Robert Dole’s official "Leadership Portrait" in the Old Senate Chamber in the US Capitol July 25, 2006 in Washington, DC. Sen. Bob Dole first came to Congress as a representative in 1961 and was elected to the Senate in 1968. He retired from leadership in 1996 after accepting the GOP presidential nomination. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Co-Chairs of the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors, former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala (L) speaks as former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS) listens during a hearing before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee September 19, 2007 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The hearing was held to discuss the findings and recommendations from the commission’s review on services the U.S. provides to its "wounded warriors." (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Former Senator Bob Dole (R-KS) (C) and former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala (L), co-chairs of the President?s Commission on Care for America?s Returning Wounded Warriors, listen to U.S. President George W. Bush speaks during a Rose Garden event October 16, 2007 at the White House in Washington, DC. Bush had a closed meeting with members of the commission prior to the event to discuss the commission?s recommendations. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Former Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole (R-KS) waves as U.S. President George W. Bush delivers his State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol January 28, 2008 in Washington, DC. Bush, in his last address, spoke on such topics as the uncertainty of the economy, improving education, the status of the war in Iraq, and immigration reform. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
(L to R) Elizabeth Dole, former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole , and U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) arrive at the Hayes-Barton Baptist Church for the funeral of former Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) July 8, 2008 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Helms, a long-time Senator and conservative firebrand, died last week at age 86. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS) attends day three of the Republican National Convention (RNC) at the Xcel Energy Center on September 3, 2008 in St. Paul, Minnesota. The GOP will nominate U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) as the Republican choice for U.S. President on the last day of the convention. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Former Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), with husband and former Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole, poses on the red carpet upon arrival at a salute to FOX News Channel’s Brit Hume on January 8, 2009 in Washington, DC. Hume was honored for his 35 years in journalism. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
Former Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) looks at her husband former Senator Bob Dole (R-KS) during an event at the World War II Memorial April 12, 2011 in Washington, DC. Vice President Joseph Biden was joined by Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar and others to dedicate a plaque for Dole’s, a World War II veteran, involvement in building the memorial. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)
Former Sen. Bob Dole arrives for the hearing for U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for the director of the CIA, Rep. Mike Pompeo(R-KS) before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on January 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. Mr. Pompeo is a former Army officer who graduated first in his class from West Point. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump listens to former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-KS), speak, after he received the Congressional Gold Medal during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol, on January 17, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Former Sen. Bob Dole (R-TN) attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, May 29, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by Olivier Douliery – Pool/Getty Images)
Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-KS) attends the confirmation hearing for Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill, on April 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. President Trump nominated Pompeo to replace Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-KS), introduces Michael Pompeo, director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and U.S. secretary of state nominee for the Trump administration, during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, April 12, 2018. (Photo by Cheriss May) (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) (R) greets former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole during a congressional Gold Medal ceremony for Dole at the U.S. Capitol January 17, 2018 in Washington D.C. (Photo by Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images)
Washington, D.C. – June 9: U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers and explorers pose for a photo with former Senator Bob Dole, R-Kansas, at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., on June 9, 2018. Dole was with the 10th Mountain Division and severely wounded during fighting in Italy just before the end of the war in Europe. Explorers are high school students considering careers in law enforcement. (Photo by Cheryl Diaz Meyer for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Former US Senator Bob Dole salutes before the flag-draped coffin of former US President George H. W. Bush at the US Capitol rotunda December 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Former Senator Bob Dole pays his respects at the casket of the late former President George H.W. Bush as he lies in state at the U.S. Capitol, December 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. A WWII combat veteran, Bush served as a member of Congress from Texas, ambassador to the United Nations, director of the CIA, vice president and 41st president of the United States. Bush will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda until Wednesday morning. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Former Senator Bob Dole waves to the crowd after being noted in the audience by Vice President Mike Pence during a Memorial Day ceremony inside the Cemetery Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery on May 27, 2019 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by Tom Brenner/Getty Images)