Former Sen. Bob Dole says the Republican Party is “losing ground” and needs to learn that “compromise is not a bad word.”
In a recent interview with The Wichita Eagle
, Dole, who will be 90 in July, said he was concerned about the direction of the party, saying the GOP is “moving further and further to the right.”
“We need to build an inclusive party, not an exclusive party. We need to broaden the base with Latinos and blacks and young people — almost every group. We’re losing ground,” said former majority leader and GOP presidential nominee from Kansas.
Dole faced off against Bill Clinton in the 1996 presidential campaign after serving in Congress for 35 years. He still tries to go to work every day at his law firm in Washington, despite chronic pain from wounds he sustained as an army lieutenant in World War II. But it's not the same as making the rounds on Capitol Hill.
“I miss it,” he told Eagle about being on the front line of politics. “I miss being in the eye of the storm.”
Dole’s more than eleven years serving at various times as both Senate majority and minority leader has been defined by his willingness to work closely with Democrats, an approach he said he consciously cultivated.
“I think a lot if it is, like I said, developing relationships — not because I want something — but just because I’m in the same body as these other 99 senators, D’s and R’s. It takes a lot of work and a lot of time, and some people you just can’t bring around,” Dole said, adding: “If you keep working at it, you can probably get it done.”
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Dole also revealed that former President Bill Clinton asked for his advice about how to deal with Congress over the 1998 scandal with White House intern, Monica Lewinsky.
“He asked me, ‘What would you do?’ And I said, ‘Well, if I could get a letter signed by whatever the number (of senators) needed that would say, ‘I’ll never vote for impeachment’ — that’s pretty good medicine.’”
The former senator said his proudest achievements were the twenty years he spent on the House and Senate agricultural committees supporting farmers, and also his role in the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.
In answer to how he wants to be remembered, Dole said, “[As] someone who loved his job and loved his state and the people in it. And tried to demonstrate those things by what I did in Congress, the House and the Senate, particularly the Senate.”
He added, “I think my sense of humor was one of my strengths.”
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