Bob Dole on Principles & Values

Former Republican Senator (KS)


OpEd 1996: After first Baby Boom president, no reaching back

In 1996, the Republican Party had nominated Sen. Bob Dole, a World War II hero who had built a distinguished legislative record. I admired Sen. Dole. I thought he would make a good president, and I campaigned hard for him in Texas. But I worried that our party had not recognized the generational politics lesson of 1992: Once voters had elected a president from the Baby Boomer generation, they were not likely to reach back. Sure enough, Sen. Dole carried Texas, but Pres. Clinton won reelection.
Source: Decision Points, by Pres. George W. Bush, p. 59 , Nov 9, 2010

1996: Won Texas presidential vote, with Bush's help

In 1996 the Dole campaign cratered. I had never seen a presidential campaign more badly run and less worthy of a candidate. But Texas gave him an outpouring of support when he visited in late October. It was apparent something was up as Bush and I approached the rally site. People had abandoned their cars on the side of the freeway and on access roads and had walked the last mile or two to the rally. The energy of these frantic Republicans made it feel like a victory celebration.

The local campaign leader told Dole about reports he'd just heard from Dole's traveling party that Dole was closing the gap, but none of the optimistic reports were backed up with public polling. Dole looked off into the distance as the limo sped down th freeway. He let the man's word pass. Then he quietly said, "They don't need to lie to me. I'm a fighter." Eleven days later, Dole won Texas by 5 points while losing the country by 8. He did, however, hold Clinton to less than 50% of the vote.

Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p.113-114 , Mar 9, 2010

1994: Considered Colin Powell for V.P. & Secretary of State

In 1994, [a Dole adviser] had lunch with Colin Powell. "There are two ways for you to become president." First, Powell could run in either party--the Republican, Rudman hoped--or as an independent, which would be difficult, almost impossible. Second, there was an easier way. Become Dole's running mate, and Dole would pledge to run for only one term.

If the Dole-Powell ticket won, the presidency would likely be Powell's, for two full terms. If something happened to Dole, it would be Powell's sooner. And, as vice president, Powell could also serve as Secretary of State. He just couldn't receive two salaries.

Powell didn't respond directly. He was used to offers, people making soundings, speaking, without authority. Dole hadn't decided yet, but the Powell idea was worth pursuing. He wanted to talk directly to Powell. Not to get Powell as vice president specifically, not to make a deal. That would be impossible. He wanted to see who Powell was.

Source: The Choice, by Bob Woodward, p. 42-44 , Nov 1, 2005

Dole's strength: What you see is what you get

Campaign adviser Bill Lacey said that he had found Dole to be honest, at times too honest. He often said what was on his mind without measuring the political consequences. A lot of the campaign message would have to be the leadership component, ultimately Dole's strong point, Lacy said. There was no way they could claim in a campaign that Dole was an outsider--his 34 year career as congressman and senator in Washington spoke for itself. Also they couldn't try to pass Dole off as the most conservative candidate because he clearly wasn't. He was a known compromiser and dealmaker. Yet Lacy found Dole to be an intuitive conservative, not an intellectual conservative. He would generally come to a conservative solution, but not always.

One key to understanding Dole, Lacy said, was this: "Dole's strength is what you see is what you get. Dole's weakness is what you see is what you get."

Source: The Choice, by Bob Woodward, p. 62 , Nov 1, 2005

Values are connected with religion

Dole connected values with religion, "My parents weren't religious in a sense," Dole told me. "They wanted us to go to Sunday School but they didn't attend church often and there wasn't any driving force there at all. Probably believed in hard work, and we all worked Saturday, Sundays, evenings, whatever. We could find jobs, and you know I remember getting my mouth washed out with soap a few times for using language." 4-letter words that he had picked up in Russell, Kansas--words that he had thought could be used to emphasize a point. "We had a strict household." Dole claimed he had learned that points could be made without foul language.

"My mother was a nut for cleanliness," he volunteered. "We didn't have a lot of clothes. She'd take 'em off at night, and we'd wear 'em again in the morning, but they would be spotless, you know, she'd see to that."

Those were the things he remembered when the talk turned to values--religion, hard work, cleanliness, not talking dirty.

Source: The Choice, by Bob Woodward, p.183 , Nov 1, 2005

1988: Attacked in TV ads as "Senator Straddle"

The VP fell on his face in the Iowa caucuses and placed an embarrassing 3rd, giving Sen. Dole the lead going into New Hampshire. By the time George arrived in Portsmouth, he seemed a chastened man. Those who had always admired Bush's decency, his sense of honor and fair play, took heart that the nice guy had returned. Then he thumped Dole for "nearly single-handedly" bringing down the GOP ticket in 1976 and chided him for divorcing his wife who had nursed him back to health after the war. "In my family loyalty is a strength," George said. "It's not a character flaw." He authorized a series of slash ads attacking Dole as "Senator Straddle" for flip-flopping on taxes. Watching his polls rise after the ads ran convinced George that negative trumps positive in the vulture's game, and that was how he decided to play. So much for Mr. Nice Guy. He won the N.H. primary with the help of the state's governor, John Sununu, and swept the Super Tuesday primaries, which ensured the GOP nomination.
Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.455 , Sep 14, 2004

"It Takes a Village" implies state over family

Bob Dole, in his acceptance speech at the Republican Convention, had attacked the premise of my book It Takes a Village. He mistakenly used my notion of the village as a metaphor for "the state" and implied that I, and by extension Democrats, favor government intrusions into every aspect of American life. "And after the virtual devastation of the American family, the rock upon which this country was founded, we are told that it takes a village, that it is collective, and thus the state, to raise a child," he said in his speech. "And with all due respect, I am here to tell you it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child."

Dole missed the point of the book, which is that families are the first line of responsibility for children, but that the village--a metaphor for society as a whole--shares responsibility for the culture, economy and environment in which our children grow up.

Source: Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, p.375 , Nov 1, 2003

1994: Apology for raising Whitewater when Bill's mother died

Our bedroom phone rang after midnight on Jan. 6, 1994 to tell Bill that his mother had just died in her sleep at her home in Hot Springs.

The White House Press Office put out the news of Virginia's death, and when we turned on the TV set in our bedroom we saw the first news item flash on the screen: "The President's mother died earlier this morning after a long battle with cancer." It made the death seem terribly final. Then Bob Dole & Newt Gingrich appeared on the Today show for a previously scheduled appearance. They began talking about Whitewater: "It to me cries out for the appointment of a regulatory, independent counsel," Dole said. I looked over at Bill's face. He was utterly stricken. Bill was raised by his mother to believe that you don't hit people when they're down. That you treat even your adversaries in life or politics with decency. A few years later, someone told Bob Dole how much his words had hurt Bill that day, and to his credit, he wrote Bill a letter of apology.

Source: Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, p.211-212 , Nov 1, 2003

Injured in Italy in WWII; suffered 3-year recovery

Bob Dole was a young lieutenant out of Kansas when he was gravely wounded as he led his squad from the 10th Mountain Division against a fortified German position in the Italian Alps. He almost died before he was evacuated to the US for a long series of operations and excruciating therapy in what turned out to be the impossible task of completely saving the use of his right arm. The terrible wound came in a flash of enemy fire on an Italian hillside. The recovery took 3 years and 3 months in America, during which he almost died from infections and other complications.

Dole admits he was bitter at times, that he felt sorry for himself. Even now he occasionally goes back over the fateful day he was hit. The assault had been delayed for a day because of the death of FDR, the beloved president and commander in chief. Dole was greatly saddened by Roosevelt's passing, but he sometimes wonder, "What if he hadn't died that day? What if we had moved out on schedule? Would I have been wounded?"

Source: The Greatest Generation, by Tom Brokaw, p.341&344 , Nov 30, 1998

1996 V.P. debate: "Stop lying about my record"

As President Gerald Ford's running mate in 1976, Dole's intolerant side would show through. In a famous moment, during a debate with his vice-presidential opponent, Walter Mondale, Dole blamed the Democrats for World War II. Later, in 1988, when he lost the New Hampshire primary to George Bush in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, I had both candidates on the air simultaneously. Bush, flush with victory, said he looked forward to seeing Dole at the next stop on the campaign trail. When I asked Dole if he had anything he wanted to say to Bush in return, Dole snarled, "Yeah, tell him to stop lying about my record." It was a self-wounding act for Dole, and even he seemed to know it.
Source: The Greatest Generation, by Tom Brokaw, p.346 , Nov 30, 1998

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