Biden pays tribute to ‘American giant’ Bob Dole as ‘a man of extraordinary courage’

“A lot of Americans remember Bob Dole as a presidential candidate, but for families he represented across the border — he represented Kansas for 36 years — and for those like me, who had the honor of calling him a friend, Bob Dole was an American giant, a man of extraordinary courage, both physical and moral courage,” the President said.

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.

Dole, a former Senate majority leader and 1996 Republican presidential nominee, died on Sunday at age 98. He had announced in February that he was being treated for advanced lung cancer.

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.

The White House has not yet said whether Biden will attend the funeral in Washington on Friday, but former President Donald Trump — who issued a statement after Dole’s death that called the former senator “an American war hero and true patriot for our Nation” — is not expected to be present, according to a source familiar with his plans.

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.

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