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A Tribute to Sen. Bob Dole

Senator Dole established BPC in 2007 alongside three other Senate majority leaders: Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, and George Mitchell. Dole and his colleagues created BPC to develop and promote pragmatic and principled solutions that can attract public support and political momentum to achieve real progress.

Dole was especially instrumental in BPC’s work on health care, which played an important role in informing the national debate on health care reform in 2009 and 2010. In 2008, he joined Baker, Mitchell, and Daschle in launching the Leaders’ Project on the State of American Health Care and released a comprehensive report in 2009, entitled Crossing Our Lines: Working Together to Reform the U.S Health System.

“As former Senate leaders, Bob and I each worked for years to reform our nation’s health care system and watched with frustration as efforts failed time and again,” said BPC co-founder Sen. Tom Daschle. “We both believed strongly that bipartisanship could be the key to health care reform and to developing other key policies that benefit the American people. That was the thinking behind the Bipartisan Policy Center. Bob was a dear friend and a true American hero. He will be greatly missed.”

“The Food Stamps Program, Social Security reform and the Americans with Disabilities Act all carry the stamp of Bob Dole’s character,” said BPC co-founder Sen. George Mitchell. Dole and Mitchell were early supporters of the ADA and were instrumental in its passage. “Bob combined strong convictions with a pragmatist’s sense of the need to get things done. That’s a rare combination, but it is essential to a functioning government. Bob was a great leader. I will miss him.”

A decorated WWII Army veteran, Bob Dole attained national prominence as a senator from Kansas. He was elected to Congress in 1960 and to the U.S. Senate in 1968, and he served as Senate Majority Leader from 1985 to 1987 and 1995 to 1996. From 1971 to 1972, he served as chairman of the Republican National Committee. In 1976, President Gerald Ford selected Dole as his vice-presidential running mate. In 1996, Dole won the Republican nomination for president and later resigned from the Senate to focus on the campaign, losing his bid for the White House to Bill Clinton.

In 2018, Senator Dole was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of his service to the nation. In that same year, BPC established the Bob and Elizabeth Dole Series on Leadership to showcase great ideas and inspired leadership across a variety of institutions.

Dole is survived by his wife, former Secretary of Labor, Secretary of Transportation, and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Hanford Dole, and by his daughter Robin.

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It is precisely because I have experienced so much of our past that I have no fears -- no fears -- for our future, not so long as this institution continues to attract men and women who are patriots as well as partisans, legislators who combine idealism and realism, and who answer to posterity rather than polltakers. Anyone can take a poll; only a true leader can move a nation.
Senator Bob Dole, March 28, 2000
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