Bob Dole, praised by Trump and Democrats, receives Congressional Gold Medal
WASHINGTON — Bob Dole, longtime Senate Republican leader and the GOP’s 1996 presidential nominee, was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal Wednesday for his service in war and government.
The 94-year-old World War II veteran’s achievements were praised by Democrats and Republicans alike as he received the medal in a ceremony at the Capitol’s Rotunda.
President Donald Trump reflected on Dole’s accomplishments and praised him for his work with veterans and the National World War II Memorial in Washington.
“You are a friend. You are a patriot, a hero, a leader,” Trump said. “It is an honor to be with you, Bob. Thank you for your service.”
“He set the example of putting country before party,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who served with Dole in the Senate. “The venerable United States Senate you love so deeply is better and stronger for your stewardship.”
In 1945, machine gun fire critically wounded Dole in Italy’s Apennine Mountains. His recovery would take three years, seven surgeries and a then-experimental antibiotic, and he never regained full use of his right arm.
Dole was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives in 1950, to the U.S. House in 1960 and the Senate in 1968. He became Senate Majority Leader in 1985 and served as Senate GOP leader until 1996.
Dole ran for vice president in 1976 on President Gerald Ford’s ticket, and sought the GOP presidential nomination in 1980, 1988 and 1996. He won the nomination in 1996, losing the election to President Bill Clinton.
As a senator, Dole was renowned for his ability to compromise. He and Democratic Sen. George McGovern were the driving forces behind improving access to food stamps, and Dole’s amendment to the Voting Rights Act of 1982 allowed the legislation to pass with overwhelming support from both parties and the White House.
“In politics honorable compromise is no sin. It is what protects us from absolutism and intolerance,” Dole said in his speech accepting the Republican nomination in 1996.
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