Dole, Bob

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Dole, Bob

Bob Dole (Robert Joseph Dole), 1923–, American political leader, b. Russell, Kan.; husband of Elizabeth Hanford Dole. While serving in World War II, he was seriously wounded and required several years of convalescence. After obtaining his law degree from Washburn Univ. (1952), he worked as a county attorney. In 1960 he was elected as a Republican to the U.S. House of Representatives and served four terms (1961–69); he was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1968. He was chairman of the Republican National Committee (1971–73), and in 1976 Dole was President Gerald Ford's running mate. With Democratic senator George McGovern, Dole worked to developed government to fight hunger in poor families, particularly poor children.

Dole served as majority leader of the Senate (1985–87, 1995–96) and as minority leader (1987–95), gaining a reputation as a pragmatic conservative with an acerbic wit. In 1980 and 1988 Dole ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination. In 1995 he again announced his candidacy for his party's presidential nomination, and he subsequently triumphed in the primaries. In June, 1996, Dole resigned from the Senate in order to devote more time to the presidential race, and in August he chose Jack Kemp as his running mate. He proved unable to reduce President Clinton's significant lead in the popular vote, however, and was soundly defeated in the November elections. In 2007, President George W. Bush selected Dole to co-chair a commission charged with investigating problems in the military health-care system.

See his One Soldier's Story: A Memoir (2005).

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