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Biden hails Bob Dole as a ‘genuine hero,’ praises courage and integrity at memorial service

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President Biden hailed former senator Bob Dole as a “genuine hero,” praising his courage on the battlefield and integrity on Capitol Hill, as he spoke at an invitation-only memorial service at Washington National Cathedral. Former senators Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), and Dole’s daughter, Robin Dole, also spoke.

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At a public ceremony at the World II Memorial in Washington, actor Tom Hanks lauded Dole’s military service and said “the memory and conscience of the man himself will always be here, right here, for as long as there is an America.” Others who paid tribute to Dole, a World War II veteran, include NBC “Today” show co-anchor Savannah Guthrie and Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Here’s what to know:

  • Dole’s obituary in The Washington Post noted that he overcame the hardships of Dust Bowl Kansas during the Depression and devastating wounds in World War II to run three times for the presidency and serve more than a decade as the Senate Republican leader.
  • Additional services for Dole are planned on Saturday in Kansas, both in Russell, the late senator’s birthplace, and at the state Capitol in Topeka.
  • View photos spanning Dole’s life and career here and photos from his memorial service at the cathedral here.
  • Read an op-ed penned by Dole, urging unity and bipartisanship, here. It has been cited by Biden and others in their tributes.
1:40 p.m.
Headshot of Paul Kane
Paul Kane: How Dole came to the aid of Newt Gingrich — Dole lost the presidency to Bill Clinton in 1996 in the largest electoral college rout of the last eight presidential elections. Many Dole allies blamed another Republican for his incredibly poor showing: Newt Gingrich.Democrats decided early, back in the summer of 1995, that Dole was the front-runner and that they would do all they could to tie the Senate majority leader to the very unpopular House speaker Gingrich, who came to power earlier that year promising a revolution but instead sank into a quagmire over attempted cuts to Medicare.But Dole got the last word on his relationship with Gingrich. In the spring of 1997, the speaker got fined $300,000 by the House Ethics Committee for infractions related to a book deal and his teaching at a Georgia college.Gingrich, who had never made money in the private sector, had to pay from his own personal finances, not campaign funds. He did not have that kind of cash.Enter Dole. The former senator, who had already landed at a big law firm, gave a personal loan to his old rival, at 10 percent interest, spread over eight years, which totaled $643,000.“I wanted to help the Republicans and help Newt Gingrich get this behind him,” Dole told reporters outside his downtown office, according to The Post’s account that day.Gingrich was pushed out as speaker after the 1998 midterm elections and went on to become a millionaire. But for a few short years, he had to make payments to a man whose friends blame the unruly speaker for Dole’s 1996 loss.
Paul Kane, Senior congressional correspondent and columnist
8:30 a.m.
Headshot of Paul Kane
Paul Kane: Dole’s humor often hit the mark Bob Dole’s humor was dry, but it was also wickedly funny, often because his jokes spoke to a greater truth.Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), in his tribute to Dole during Thursday’s service in the Capitol Rotunda, nodded to one of his most legendary gibes, one that sticks to this day.“Bob Dole and I never worked together in the Senate, but I was not spared from his famous ribbing. Don’t worry, Bob, it’s safe to be between me and the cameras today,” Schumer said Thursday.That referred to Dole’s remark back in 1995, in an interview with the Associated Press, taking a shot at the very ambitious member of the House representing Brooklyn at the time.“The most dangerous place is between him and a camera,” Dole said of Schumer.Like so many Dole digs, this one stuck. In 2015, Emily Heil of The Washington Post did some research and discovered at least 234 mentions of the phrase “most dangerous place” in proximity to “Schumer” in a search of Nexis’s records of news stories.
Paul Kane, Senior congressional correspondent and columnist
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