Biden, who had served in the Senate with Dole, acknowledged the partisan divide between them, telling those gathered at the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, “We didn’t agree on everything, but I always admired and respected him, and his willingness to work with anyone, any party when it mattered most.”
“Our nation owes Bob Dole a debt of gratitude for his remarkable service and a life well lived,” he said.
Arriving in Washington at the dawn of the Kennedy administration, Dole served for 27 years as a US senator from Kansas, including two stints as the Senate majority leader, though he might be best known for his unsuccessful run as the Republican presidential nominee against Bill Clinton in 1996, his third attempt at the White House. He also served as President Gerald Ford’s running mate in 1976 after Nelson Rockefeller declined to stay on as vice president.
The President’s remarks on Wednesday build on his statement mourning Dole following news of his passing. “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,” Biden said Sunday.
“I will miss my friend. But I am grateful for the times we shared, and for the friendship Jill and I and our family have built with Liddy and the entire Dole family.”
Dole will lie in state in the US Capitol Rotunda on Thursday.
Trump’s absence means there won’t be a full meeting of the so-called presidents club, though it remains to be seen if the other former living presidents will attend.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, Ted Barrett, Veronica Stracqualursi and Shawna Mizelle contributed to this report.