(56.) ROBERT JOSEPH DOLE (1923- )
Republican Dole/John F. Kemp
Defeated by Democrat William J. Clinton/Albert A. Gore, Jr., 1996
Bob Dole was born in Russell, Kansas, and educated at the University of Kansas and Washburn University of Topeka. Dole left college to join the military in World War II. He was severely wounded in Italy and left the military with a handicapped right arm. Dole returned to graduate from college and law school magna cum laude. In 1950 Dole was elected as a Republican representative to the Kansas state legislature. In 1960 he won a seat as a Kansas representative to the Congress. Dole ran on the Republican ticket for U. S. senator in 1968 and won easily. His aggressive partisan support of President Richard Nixon earned him the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee in 1971. By early 1973, however, he was at odds with Nixon’s staff, and he resigned from the chairmanship. As a senator Dole sometimes deviated from his strict conservatism, especially with his support of government aid to feed the hungry and his consistent backing of civil rights legislation.
In 1976 President Gerald Ford asked Dole to be his vice presidential running mate. The team was narrowly defeated, and Dole’s assertive, acerbic campaign style caused unfavorable commentary that led him to cultivate a softer image. After an unsuccessful bid for the presidential nomination in 1980, he was elected to a third term as senator. He took over as Senate majority leader in 1985. In February 1995 Dole announced his intention to run for president in 1996. Dole resigned his Senate seat in June to devote his time exclusively to his presidential campaign. He was defeated, however, by incumbent President Bill Clinton.