WASHINGTON (AP) – Bob Dole was honored at the Washington National Cathedral on Friday as key leaders from both parties gathered to display the type of bipartisanship now rare in modern government, a tribute to the senator’s ability to long Kansas dates back to practicing politics with his bare hands without losing a dominant sense of civility.
Dole’s flag-draped casket was carried into the shrine by a military honor guard as the congregation stood and as Dole’s wife, former North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole, and daughter, Robin, looked. Former Vice President Mike Pence and actor Tom Hanks joined key congressional leaders in the invitational ceremony, as did Bill Clinton, who defeated Dole to be re-elected president in 1996 and was recently hospitalized in California for six days to treat an infection. unrelated to COVID-19.
Dole’s longtime friend President Joe Biden sat with First Lady Jill Biden on the first bench. Dole’s casket will later travel to the WWII memorial on the National Mall for a public “celebration of life” featuring General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Orchestra of the US military.
Dole, who died Sunday at the age of 98, was wounded in the war, served almost 36 years in Congress and was the leader of the GOP Senate for more than a decade. In February, he announced that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.
Along with his sharp and often sarcastic tongue, among Dole’s best-known attributes were his pragmatic politics and self-deprecating spirit – representing the sense of common civility and compromise of a bygone era.
âAs divided as we are, the only way forward for democracy is unity – consensus – the only way,â Biden said Thursday while in state on the United States Capitol. “We can follow his wisdom and timeless truth and come to a consensus on the basic fundamentals we all agree on.”
Dole’s coffin, draped in the American flag, was placed under the dome. Biden said Dole “belongs here, in this place, this temple of freedom and this temple of possibility.”
“He too was a giant in our history,” said the president.
Dole’s body will later travel to Kansas, where the weekend’s events include a public screening at the St. Mary Queen of Angels Catholic Church in her hometown of Russell. He will then be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
“There is no doubt that Bob Dole has left this world in a much better place because of his legacy of leadership and service,” said Mike Ford, president of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation and eldest son of the late President Ford, in a statement. âAs we read the obituaries and see the responses to his passing, my family is struck by the genuine affection expressed across the political spectrum. Her warmth, wit and wisdom will be sorely missed.
Ford chose Dole as his running mate while unsuccessfully seeking to retain the presidency in the 1976 election.
Thursday’s Capitol service was not open to the public, but political leaders and other guests were able to stop by, including Dan Quayle. The former vice president touched Dole’s coffin and said “Goodbye, mate”.
Black draperies hung from the doors under the dome as Dole reclined, and the lectern was positioned so that the statue of another Kansas statesman, Dwight Eisenhower, was seen in the background. Senator Mitch McConnell, now the longest-serving Republican Senate leader, said Dole idolized Eisenhower, calling the former president and general a hero who embodied “the finest qualities of the American people.”
“We can say with certainty that Eisenhower is not the only Kansan to meet these standards,” McConnell said in a speech earlier this week.
McConnell had raised concerns that an event planner for the memorial service, Tim Unes, had been subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the deadly mob attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 for his role in planning that day for former President Donald Trump, according to a person who was granted anonymity to discuss the private conversation. Trump had urged his supporters to come to Capitol Hill to fight against certification of Biden’s election victory.
Dole family spokesman Steve Schwab said in a statement that Unes, a former Dole campaign staff member, “volunteered his time to be part of the forward team for the commemorative events of this week”. Schwab said Elizabeth Dole “was not aware” of Unes’ involvement in the January attack and once he informed her she “terminated her volunteer role.”
Born as a child of the Dust Bowl, Bob Dole suffered crippling and near-fatal injuries after being shot during World War II that sent him home with a badly damaged right arm he couldn’t use to shake hands. Instead, Dole held a pen in it and reached out with his left hand to put the hosts at ease.
He was a Kansas state legislator before running for Congress in 1960, joining the House for eight years and then winning the Senate seat. The 1996 race was Dole’s third and final White House campaign.
Dole’s sense of humor kicked in after his loss to Clinton. McConnell recalled that at the time of Dole’s remarks, he stood at the podium and began, “I, Robert J. Doleâ¦ I solemnly swearâ¦ oh, sorry, bad speech!”
But this humor was rarely seen during the election campaign, where it could have helped him win more votes. Instead, Dole was seen as a GOP âax manâ, a Richard Nixon mentee and Chairman of the Republican National Committee during the Watergate era.
Yet it was during Dole’s long career in the Senate that he began to see the value of reaching Democrats and securing his most lasting accomplishments – most notably the Americans with Disabilities Act which guarantees this maintain a level of accessibility as a civil law. .
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