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tv   U.S. Senate Sen. Mc Connell on Passing of Sen. Bob Dole  CSPAN  December 7, 2021 9:08am-9:19am EST

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greatest achievements were bipartisan endeavors including his work to pass the americans with disabilities act, legislation to strengthen social security, and revamping federal nutrition programs. despite rising to the top ranks of his party, senator dole always kept close relationships with those on the other side of the aisle. senator dole exemplified the greatest generation. while i never had the pleasure of serving in the senate with him, i always admired his steadfast advocacy for veterans, americans with disability and his love for his country. for the information of all, senator dole will lie in state this thursday under the capital rotunda where we will pay tribute to his life, and to his legacy. i thank the speaker and leader mcconnell in helping make this event ceremonies possible. for today, i join all my colleagues in mourning the loss of this great public servant and i wish all of senator
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dole's family, my deepest condolences. >> it's hard to believe it's been 25 years since senator dole took leave of the senate. it's even harder to believe he passed away this past weekend. not because it comes as a shock to say goodbye to an elder statesman at age 98, but because our colleague was still so energetic, so involved, and so forward-looking right through to his final months. if you didn't know bob dole, if you just read a summary of his impressive senate career, his leadership, tenure, his presidential campaign, he might sound like a man of contrasts. on one hand, our friend from kansas preached conservative
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values, personal responsibility, and fiscal discipline, but this son of the dust bowl and wounded warrior was also laser focused on caring for the most vulnerable, notching landmark wins on subjects from food insecurity, to veterans issues, to the rights of disabled americans. on the one hand, senator dole took pride in our republican party. he rose to key roles that were necessarily somewhat partisan, first leading our senate republican conference for many years, and then leading a presidential ticket. but he was also a concensus founding legislator, an honest broker with deep friendships and working relationships that spanned the aisle. on the one hand, our colleague was earnest, unironic, and
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somewhat serious. a true greatest generation midwesterner. but he also wielded a charming, disarming and self-deprecating sense of humor whether he was cracking one-liners often at his own expense or doing a joint appearance with his comic impersonator. allow me one example of bob dole's comedic talent. in january of 1997 just after president clinton had defeated bob and won his reelection, the president graciously bestowed on bob the presidential medal of freedom. there they were in mid january, just three days before the day bob had spent months hoping he'd be inaugurated, but president clinton would be reinaugurated instead.
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it was a gracious gesture and a warm event all around. the time comes for bob's remarks. walks up to the podium, looks around, and he begins, i, robert j. dole, the crowd is cracking up, do solemnly swear and then a theatrical pause. oh, sorry, wrong speech. once the laughs began to die down there became the self-deprecating punchline, i thought i'd be here this historic week receiving something from the president, i thought it would be the front door key. the thing is, madam president, there was no contradiction in all of it, no paradox, bob's life and career were very, very consistent. the virtues and the values that led bob dole to raise his right
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hand, enlist in the army and fight bravely until he could not raise that hand any longer, were the same virtues and values that compelled him to raise his left hand for a different oath in the kansas state capital a few years later. and then across the rotunda in the u.s. house and then here in the senate, the same virtues and values that animated bob's pointed speeches in the 1960's about a citizen's duty animated his great empathy toward those who needed help. with bob dole, what you saw was what you got and from his comrades in the 10th mountain division to his constituents in kansas, to the whole senate and the entire country, what we got was extraordinary. i cannot summarize in one speech the full life or legacy
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of our friend, bob dole. there are the battlefield heroics, the hospital bed friendships with future senators phil hart and the best bridge player at percy jones hospital, dan enaway. there's the policy legacy that endures to this day. these remembrances will take congress this whole week and they'll occupy historians for decades to come. bob dole has the same chief hero for his entire adult life, fellow son of kansas, and president dwight eisenhower. he saved the second to last quotation from his hero in
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abilene, kansas and kept his foot personally on the gas pedal for the eisenhower memorial well into his 90's. and invoked ike throughout his career. one such occasion late 1979. an event was held at eisenhower's boyhood home, presidential library and graver site at abilene on what would have been his 89th birthday. it so happened that only a couple of weeks later, mrs. eisenhower would pass away and be laid to rest there as well. on that day, senator dole explained that america had gotten lucky, why? because, quote, when we were thirsty for leadership we turned to a man from kansas. a genuine hero who embodied in his own life the finest qualities of the american people. a man from grass roots america
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steeped in the traditions of patriotism and service. a strong man who earned his strength in war yet never forgot the disease of poverty or the scourge of personal suffering. bob was always eloquent and those lines of his certainly did describe ike. but now that our friend's 98 amazing years have come to a close, we can say with certainty that eisenhower isn't the only kansan, not only dwight eisenhower, but robert j. dole from kansas, steeped in home spun american values and proud of it. who fought with great courage and valor on the battlefield
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and whose concern for the most vulnerable in our society came right with him into the halls of power. i mentioned that eisenhower was bob's second to last quotation in his farewell remarks to the senate. so i want to close today where he closed 25 years ago. musings on both his past and his future, our colleague's final quote was from the midwestern poet carl sandberg. yesterday is a wind gone down, a sun dropped in the west, i tell you that there is nothing in the world only an ocean for tomorrows, a sky of tomorrow. now for our remarkable friend, the sun of this world has set at last. but we pray in faith that he
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knew beholds a brighter, brighter life that the endless oceans of tomorrows now stretches before him. the entire senate sends our prayers to elizabeth and robin and so many family friends and former staff of senator dole. the whole country stands with you not only in grief, but in gladness and thanksgiving for almost a century that was lived so patriotically, so gratefully, and so well. >> madam, president, i know many senators will be speaking further on this floor about one of the most distinguished senators, senator that i've had the honor to serve with and that's bob dole, senator from


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