Bob Dole, who served for 25 years in the Senate and was the Republican Party's 1996 nominee for president, died early Sunday morning in his sleep, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation announced. He was 98.
Dole served as a senator from Kansas for 25 years and also ran for president in 1988 and vice president in 1976.
"I will always remember Bob's salute to my late dad at the Capitol, and now we Bushes salute Bob and give thanks for his life of principled service." former President George W. Bush wrote in a statement.
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In one of his last public appearances, Dole visited the Capitol Rotunda in 2018 to pay his respects to President George H. W. Bush, whose body was lying in state there. Dole's caretaker lifted him out of his wheelchair so he could salute with his left hand. According to his obituary in The New York Times, Dole permanently lost the use of his right hand after being wounded in World War II.
Bush also wrote that Dole "represented the finest of American values."
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) wrote on Twitter, "When I think of the greatest generation, I think of Senator Bob Dole." Dole was the last World War II veteran to run for president.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called Dole an "extraordinary soldier, a relentless legislator, and a faithful statesman."
Democrats also expressed their admiration for the long-serving Republican. "Bob Dole was a man to be admired by Americans," President Biden tweeted. "He had an unerring sense of integrity and honor." In a longer statement, Biden, who entered the Senate just four years after Dole, wrote, "I will miss my friend."
Former President Bill Clinton, who defeated Dole in the 1996 presidential election and later presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, tweeted that Dole's "example should inspire people today and for generations to come."
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted that Dole "served his country with courage on the battlefield, and with dignity in the Senate."
As of Sunday afternoon, former President Donald Trump had not yet released a statement on Dole's death. Dole was one of the few old-guard Republicans to support Trump in 2016. After the 2020 election, Dole disputed Trump's claims that the election was stolen. In a July interview with USA Today, Dole said he remained a "Trumper" but that he was "sort of Trumped out."
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