“We lost a giant, a leader, and a true patriot.” Those were the words Scott Reed, longtime Bob Dole confidant and campaign manager of Dole’s ’96 presidential run, told me when he learned the senator had passed.
Yes, Bob Dole was a soldier, statesman and patriot. He was a man who never gave up and always kept fighting. And he taught us all what character, duty and being an American is all about.
Bob Dole was known for his humor and quick wit. But he also had a unique ability to handle many tasks simultaneously and remain focused without getting rattled.
While announcing his 1988 presidential run, in Florence, S.C., Dole, who was also serving as Senate Republican Leader, had to make several calls related to Senate business. I was serving as South Carolina State GOP Chairman at the time, and walked the Senator back to his small plane that would carry him on to his next stop.
He chuckled and smiled and then said, “Van, I’m just a one-man band.” He had an inner core, knew what he believed in, and didn’t surround himself with a cadre of aides and handlers.
We all have ups and downs in life. How a man handles both victory and defeat tells you a lot about a man and his character. In 2016, Dole originally supported Jeb Bush for the presidency, whose father had once been a bitter rival. Bob Dole put that past him, and supported the younger Bush.
Bob Dole had some great victories in life, as well as some terrible disappointments. The former Senate Majority Leader and both GOP presidential and vice presidential nominee, was always magnanimous in victory and gracious in defeat. He was a class act who taught us all.
Bob Dole was part of “The Greatest Generation” that always answered America’s “call to duty” and showed the entire world exactly how great America was.
I believe the Republican Party of today finally stands for and espouses the things that Bob Dole fought for all of his life. It took some time, but today the Republican party has been transformed into the party of the working middle class.
There was a time, a different era, in the Republican Party however, when a GOP leader who grew up in the basement of a three-room house during the “Great Depression” in Russell, Kansas, fought for working-class families.
Today, the GOP stands by and supports our veterans, and the challenges they’ve continued to face and problems they’ve encountered by a dysfunctional government. But, there was a time when a Republican leader who had been wounded in WWII, gone through seven operations, years of rehab and had a paralyzed right arm from his battlefield injuries, fought for our veterans like no one else.
Today, the GOP believes a strong military is the best way to keep America safe. Well, there was once a Republican leader and 10th U.S. Army Mountain Division veteran and recipient of the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, who always fought to keep an American military so strong that no one would dare challenge us.
Today, the GOP stands up to the elites and pledges to be the voice of the “forgotten Americans.” Throughout his career, Bob Dole, the Republican leader from a small town where his Dad ran a stand that sold eggs and cream and his mom sold Singer sewing machines, always stood up to the elites and fought for the “Silent Majority.”
The GOP of today has been transformed into a party that fights for working class Americans, believes in taking care of our Veterans, and believes keeping American safe should be the top priority of the federal government.
But you know what? These are the kinds of values, the kind of Republican Party, and most importantly, the kind of America that Bob Dole fought for both on the battlefield and in the political world. Just maybe, the Republican party has come back home to Bob Dole values that will truy be the voice of the “forgotten Americans.”
Since 1950, the nickname “Mr. Republican” has been reserved for legendary late Ohio Sen. Bob Taft. Today, I submit that Bob Dole will always be remembered as “Mr. Republican.”
But much more importantly, he will be remembered as the “Gold Standard” of public service that all of America’s leaders, both Republican and Democrat, should strive to emulate.
Van Hipp is Chairman of American Defense International, Inc. He is the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army and author of "The New Terrorism: How to Fight It and Defeat It." He is the 2018 recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II September 11 Garden Leadership Award for National Security. Read Van Hipp's Reports — More Here.
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