Magazine article Insight on the News

Future First Lady, or First Lady President?

Magazine article Insight on the News

Future First Lady, or First Lady President?

Article excerpt

After a quarter-century of service in Washington, Elizabeth Dole has developed an impressive political resume. Supporters suggest she may be the Dole destined for the Oval Office.

When Elizabeth Hanford spent the summer of 1960 working as a secretary for a North Carolina senator, a friend teased her that she would either marry someone going to the White House or become president herself It's no joke 35 years later: Her husband, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, is the front-runner on his third try for the 1996 Republican presidential nomination.

Elizabeth Dole herself often has been mentioned as a good choice for the first woman to occupy the Oval Office. Certainly, she is no stranger to the campaign trail, which the couple hit again last April when Dole declared his candidacy in his hometown, Russell, Kan. Some say Elizabeth -- her college friends call her Liddy -- is her husband's best asset because of her Washington savvy and keen political instincts.

Her public-service career started in Lyndon Johnson's White House Office of Consumer Affairs in 1968 and has included a five-year stint as a federal trade commissioner, a position she resigned in 1979 when her husband launched his first bid for the presidency. She served as one of the directors of President-elect Ronald Reagan's transition team and head of his White House public-liaison office in 1981-83. Reagan appointed her to be secretary of transportation, a post she held for four years until resigning in 1987 to help her husband make his second run for the presidency Following the election of President Bush, she was appointed secretary of labor. Since 1991, she has served as president of the American Red Cross, an organization that supplies half the nation's blood.

During an interview with Insight in her Foggy Bottom office, however, Elizabeth Dole was preoccupied with one topic: her husband's third attempt to become president of the United States. While she is conscientious about maintaining the nonpartisanship of the Red Cross -- she won't talk about politics or issues -- she is forthcoming about Bob Dole: husband, father, leader, public servant. "Bob Dole understands the values that made this country great. He has very strong feelings about the country being off on the wrong track, and he will do everything in his power to get us back on the right track."

There was never a formal sit-down session in the Dole family to decide whether the senior senator from Kansas would run again. But during the last two years, says Elizabeth, "you could hardly go out of the door that somebody said, `Bob, you've got to do this. We really want you to do it.'" The Doles' trip to France and Italy for the 50th anniversary of D-Day in December 1994 was "a defining moment" in his decision to run. …

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