WASHINGTON — The death of former Kansas senator and Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole elicited eulogies from across the country on Sunday, as Americans reflected on his legacy.
President Joe Biden said one of his first conversations with someone outside the White House following his inauguration was with Dole, whom Biden regarded as a longtime friend.
“In the Senate, though we often disagreed, he never hesitated to work with me or other Democrats when it mattered most,” Biden wrote in a statement issued Sunday afternoon.
“Bob was an American statesman like few in our history. A war hero and among the greatest of the Greatest Generation. And to me, he was also a friend whom I could look to for trusted guidance, or a humorous line at just the right moment to settle frayed nerves. I will miss my friend,” Biden continued.
“Senator Bob Dole was a truly great man who lived an extraordinary life of service to America and he will be deeply missed by all of us who had the privilege to know him,” former Vice President Mike Pence wrote in a tweet.
“Senate Republicans and the entire Senate were better off for Bob’s stewardship. But more importantly, his beloved Kansas and the entire nation reaped huge rewards from his service,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wrote in a statement.
“Whatever their politics, anyone who saw Bob Dole in action had to admire his character and his profound patriotism. Those of us who were lucky to know Bob well ourselves admired him even more,” McConnell continued.
President Barack Obama praised Dole for his “integrity” and efforts at “making this country everything he knew it could be.”
“Senator Dole was a war hero, a political leader, and a statesman – with a career and demeanor harkening back to a day when members of the Greatest Generation abided by a certain code, putting country over party,” Obama wrote.
“Laura and I are saddened by the passing of a great patriot, Senator Bob Dole. This good man represented the finest of American values. He defended them in uniform during World War II. He advanced them in the United States Senate. And he lived them out as a father, husband, and friend,” former President George W. Bush wrote on Instagram.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., ordered the flags above the U.S. Capitol to be flown at half-staff in honor of Dole, her office announced.
Several comments eulogizing Dole framed his passing as the end of an era for Washington and the nation at large.
“You are the last of the lions of the Senate,” Cindy McCain, the wife of the late Republican senator and presidential nominee John McCain, wrote on Twitter.
“Senator Bob Dole dedicated himself to the American experiment and its deepest ideals,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted. “Today, we should reflect on service to one another and commit to following the example he set for America.”
Among Dole's biggest works was championing the Americans with Disabilities Act. The bill's lead sponsor, former Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, praised that effort, noting that Dole's first speech on the Senate floor turned attention to the "discriminations disabled Americans faced."
“Bob Dole’s help in passing the Americans with Disabilities Act was most significant. He never wavered in his support for breaking down barriers to persons with disabilities," Harkin said in a statement.
Many lawmakers lauded Dole for his military service during World War II.
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, wrote that Dole was “an honorable statesman and American hero who had an unwavering commitment to this country and those who’ve fought to protect us in uniform.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote he and his family were saddened by the passing of a “war hero” and “dedicated public servant.”.
“Bob Dole served his country with courage on the battlefield, and with dignity in the Senate. Jane and I send our condolences to his family,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., wrote in a tweet.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., called Dole a “a giant of the Senate” in a statement. He recalled that “traveling with him, working with him and writing legislation with him are among my fondest memories in the Senate."
“Bob Dole was a war hero, a patriot, and the embodiment of our country’s Greatest Generation,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., wrote on Twitter. Sen. Rob Johnson, R-Wisc., wrote that Dole was “a statesman, patriot, and true American hero.”
“When I think of the greatest generation, I think of Senator Bob Dole — a man who dedicated his life to serving our country. Rest In Peace, my friend. Ann and I will be praying for Elizabeth, their family, and loved ones,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, posted.
Dole survived grievous injuries during World War II that left him unable to properly use his right hand. He went on to service as a congressman, a senator and GOP Senate majority leader, as well as the Republican nominee for vice president in 1976 and president in 1996.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., wrote that Dole had given “legendary service to America” and “embodied what it means to be a true statesman.”
“He always stood for what was just (and) right,” former House Speaker Paul Ryan wrote on Twitter.
In February, Dole was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. He was 98.
Dole was one of the few members of the Republican establishment to endorse former President Donald Trump in 2016. "I'm a Trumper," Dole told USA TODAY during a June interview. "I'm sort of Trumped out, though,” he conceded.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lawmakers remember Bob Dole as hero, servant