Former Sen. Bob Dole received the Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday, in recognition of his serviceto the nation as a “soldier, legislator and statesman.”The two shared a stage under the Capitol dome Wednesday as Dole, 94, accepted Congress’ highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, for his World War II
service and decades of work in the House and Senate. Trump, meanwhile, was mired in a pitched budget battle that threatened to end in a government shutdown at week’send.He was presented the medal by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. at a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol rotunda, as other bipartisan congressional leaders, along with
President Trump looked on. Dole was an early backer of Trump, and the only former GOP presidential nominee to endorse the president.
“Bob Dole was known for his ability to work across the aisle and embrace practical bipartisanship,” reads the legislation Trump signed in September. Some of the award’s 300 recipients include George Washington and Mother Teresa, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Bipartisanship is a concept not often embraced these days, especially by the unconventional president Dole endorsed during the 2016 election. Trump’s profanity-laced meeting with lawmakers of both parties on immigration last week blew up whatever comity may have existed between him and Congress at the start of 2018. Trump denigrated
Haiti and countries in Africa as “shitholes,” according to multiple people present. Dole, even at his crankiest, has never been known for such a tone or attitude
“If there’s anyone who has mistakenly attached themselves to our party in the belief that we are not open to citizens of every race and religion, then let me remind
you,” Dole said during his acceptance speech at the 1996 Republican National Convention. “Tonight, this hall belongs to the party of Lincoln. And the exits, which
are clearly marked, are for you to walk out of as I stand this ground without compromise.”
“I want to thank all those who’ve said such kind words about me,” Dole said. “They’re probably not true, but they were nice,” he quipped.
He also thanked his congressional aides over the years, many of whom were on hand, saying “I’ve always said that you’re no better than your staff.”
Dole then turned the mic over to his wife, former Transportation Secretary and Sen. Elizabeth Dole, who read the rest of her husband’s speech, mentioning the majestic view from Dole’s former Senate office, one that includes the statue of Grant, the National Mall, the World War II Memorial and on to Arlington National Cemetery. “Leadership,” Elizabeth Dole said on her husband’s behalf, “begins with the long view.”
The Congressional Gold Medal has been awarded to a range of recipients, from George Washington to Rosa Parks to Frank Sinatra and is Congress’ “highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions
In 1996, he was the GOP nomination for president, losing to Bill Clinton. He had earlier lost two bids for the Republican nod. He was also President Gerald Ford’s running mate in 1976.
Dole, 94, was grievously wounded in World War II and never recovered use of his right arm. In recent years he’s been spotted sitting in a wheelchair and greeting fellow veterans who have traveled to Washington to see the World War II Memorial.