On 98th birthday, Bob Dole reflects on Trump, filibuster, GOP

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Bob Dole received the Congressional Gold Medal in January

Former Kansas senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole turned 98 on Thursday and in a national interview, offered his insight into everything happening in a nation’s capitol he once helped lead.

“I keep fairly busy,” Dole said in an interview with USA Today. Dole, who announced earlier this year he has stage four lung cancer, was interviewed in his apartment in the Watergate complex, and said he hopes to regain enough strength to make “one more trip home,” to Kansas, to visit the Veterans Affairs medical center in Topeka and meet with students at the University of Kansas’ Dole Institute of Politics in Lawrence.

Dole is receiving cancer treatments at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Dole is in favor of keeping the Senate filibuster tradition, now under attack by Democrats who claim the GOP is using the tactic to stall President Joe Biden’s massive, trillion-dollar infrastructure spending package.

Former Sen. Bob Dole attends Mike Pompeo's confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 12, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
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Former Sen. Bob Dole attends Mike Pompeo's confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 12, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

“Both sides use it,” Dole said, praising Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia moderate Democrat who is defending it.

Dole represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate from 1969 to 1996. He was the Republican leader of the Senate during the final 11 years of his tenure, including three nonconsecutive years as Senate majority leader.

One of the first GOP elders to endorse Donald Trump for president, Dole said Trump lost the most recent presidential election narrowly, but fairly, despite Trump’s claims to the contrary.

“He lost the election, and I regret that he did, but they did,” Dole said. “He had Rudy Giuliani running all over the country, claiming fraud. He never had one bit of fraud in all those lawsuits he filed and statements he made.”

Dole was born July 22, 1923, and was President Gerald Ford’s vice presidential running mate in 1976, losing to the Democratic ticket of Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale. Dole was the GOP presidential nominee in 1996, losing to Bill Clinton.

Former Senator Bob Dole stands up and salutes the casket of the late former President George H.W. Bush as he lies in state at the U.S. Capitol, December 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. A WWII combat veteran, Bush served as a member of Congress from Texas, ambassador to the United Nations, director of the CIA, vice president and 41st president of the United States. Bush will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda until Wednesday morning.
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Former Senator Bob Dole stands up and salutes the casket of the late former President George H.W. Bush as he lies in state at the U.S. Capitol, December 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. A WWII combat veteran, Bush served as a member of Congress from Texas, ambassador to the United Nations, director of the CIA, vice president and 41st president of the United States. Bush will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda until Wednesday morning.

Credit: Drew Angerer

Credit: Drew Angerer

In 2007, President George W. Bush appointed Dole as a co-chair of the commission to investigate problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

In the interview, Dole lamented the loss of bipartisanship in Congress.

“I don’t like to second-guess, but I do believe we’ve lost something,” he said. “I can’t get my hand on it, but we’re just not quite where we should be, as the greatest democracy in the world. And I don’t know how you correct it, but I keep hoping that there will be a change in my lifetime.”