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|Persons of interest|
Robert Joseph Dole (1923–2021) was a Kansas Republican Congressman, three-time Presidential candidate, one-time Vice Presidential Candidate, and twice Senate Majority Leader. He is famous for being among the final generation of Republicans who weren't total wingnuts, despite being the only living former nominee for the party's presidential ticket to endorse Donald Trump, the biggest wingnut presidential candidate as of 2016, and Dole spoke at the convention. Dole died of lung cancer on December 5, 2021.
- He was a firm fighter for the rights of the disabled. Dole himself was permanently disabled, his right arm had limited mobility, from near-fatal injuries that he received in combat during World War II.
- Early in his career, he voted in favor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Twenty Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
- He helped make food stamps more accessible for millions of Americans.
Dole's Presidential desires
From the start of his time in public life, it became rather obvious to anybody paying attention that Dole wanted to be President of the United States. Dole first ran for President in 1980, with the most memorable thing about it being him calling George H.W. Bush a "fucking Nazi." Dole got a grand total of 7,204 votes, 0.06% of the overall total in the primary, and endorsed Ronald Reagan upon dropping out. (The run was so forgettable that Dole would begin many of his speeches in 1988 by going "You may not know this, but I ran for President.":14)
Dole gave it another go in 1988, and this time managed to win slightly less then twenty percent of the vote but was primarily defeated due to Bush painting him as somebody who was a straddler on taxes, an idea to which Dole angerly responded to with the line stop lying about my record, which also made him look mean. Dole did manage to win the endorsement of Strom Thurmond, for whatever that's worth.
However, Dole's most successful campaign was his attempt at the presidency in 1996, the only time he actually won the nomination. Although many of the hardcore Republicans felt "he wasn't conservative enough," in the words of one of his speechwriters, many who weren't in that small base felt that he was, to be blunt, too old and stuffy, especially compared to the young and cool Bill Clinton, and his elderly status in both age (if elected, Dole would have been the oldest President in American history) and ideas was something Dole constantly played into. Dole famously said he wanted to "be the bridge to a time of tranquility, faith, and confidence in action" which Clinton responded to by declaring "we do not need to build a bridge to the past, we need to build a bridge to the future."
At the end of the day, Clinton was just too popular and Republican policies were too unpopular at the time for Dole to really have a chance. Richard Nixon famously warned Dole that "If the economy's good, you're not going to beat Clinton," and the economy had very much grown during Clinton's first term (which was especially bad luck for Dole given the last Republican President, George H. W. Bush, ended his administration on a recession). Meanwhile, Clinton was able to paint Dole as little more then a clone of the highly unpopular House Speaker Newt Gingrich, further making Dole look worse in the eyes of the public.
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