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Biden honors Bob Dole: 'One of our greatest patriots'

·Senior Writer
·2-min read
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President Biden and congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle gathered Thursday at the U.S. Capitol to honor Bob Dole, the longtime senator, 1996 Republican presidential nominee and World War II hero, who died Sunday at age 98.

Dole's flag-draped casket was carried into the Capitol Rotunda, where it will lie in state until his funeral Friday.

"Bob Dole loved this Capitol," said Biden, who served decades alongside Dole in the Senate. "It's where he served the nation, shaped by the figures that surround us, Washington and Jefferson, who set us on our path.

"Bob belongs here," the president continued. "He too was a giant of our history. And that's not hyperbole. It's real."

Dole died in his sleep early Sunday morning, his family said. He had announced in February that he had been diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.

Growing up in a blue-collar family in Depression-era Kansas, Dole rose to become a fixture in Washington, D.C. Badly wounded in action in Italy, he lost the use of his right arm, but reached the peak of Republican politics, serving as the party’s presidential nominee, vice presidential nominee and Senate leader in a career that spanned nearly four decades.

Biden, who was elected to the Senate in 1972, just four years after Dole did the same, recalled the late senator's "wit and grace, persistence and conviction."

"We genuinely respected one another as colleagues and fellow Americans," he said. "It was real. It wasn't fake."

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden touch the casket of the late Sen. Bob Dole during a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda on Thursday.
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden touch the casket of the late Sen. Bob Dole during a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda on Thursday. (Shawn Thew/AFP via Getty Images)

The president then read part of Dole's final essay, which was published posthumously earlier this week.

"'I cannot pretend that I have not been a loyal champion for my party, but I always served my country best when I did so first and foremost as an American,'" Biden said, quoting from Dole's op-ed. "'When we prioritize principles over party and humanity over personal legacy, we accomplish far more as a nation. By leading with a shared faith in each other, we become America at its best.'"

Biden said he hoped that the country could follow Dole's "wisdom."

"America has lost one of our greatest patriots," the president said. "As divided as we are, the only way forward for democracy is unity."

An overhead view of President Biden, right, paying his respects after a wreath-laying in front of the casket of the late Sen. Bob Dole in the Capitol Rotunda on Thursday.
President Biden, right, pays his respects after a wreath-laying in front of Dole's casket in the Capitol Rotunda on Thursday. (Andrew Harnik/AP/Pool)
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