Profile in Decency

Thursday, December 28, 2006

We were fortunate in 1974, a time of crisis, to have the right person in the right place at the right time. When the country needed healing, reconciliation and restoration of confidence, Gerald Ford provided it.

He was a principled partisan, a GOP leader who worked diligently for Republican causes but who knew the limits of partisanship. He could also count -- and he knew that with Republicans in the minority, if he was to accomplish anything as House Republican leader or as president, he would often need a bipartisan approach.

He was never a person to nurse a grudge. He was willing to admit mistakes. Generally, he had a smile on his face, but he was determined and competitive, though realistic about what he could achieve.

In defeat he was gracious. Notwithstanding a heated 1976 campaign, in a race that went from a 30-point deficit to a cliffhanger, he and President Jimmy Carter became close friends and accomplished many worthwhile things together.

Gerald Ford had never sought the presidency and thus was obligated to no group or individual. His legacy will be that he stopped the national hemorrhaging over Watergate. A man of courage and integrity, he made the tough choice of pardoning Richard Nixon, which helped heal the nation but very likely cost him the 1976 election. He showed his willingness to put the country's interest first.

-- Bob Dole

The former Senate majority leader was Gerald Ford's vice presidential running mate in 1976.

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