Bob Dole Offers A Final Salute To Old Friend And Political Rival George H.W. Bush

Though in poor health himself, Bob Dole made his way to the Capitol to pay his respects to his old friend and political rival.

Over the course of two Presidential campaigns in 1980 and, especially, in 1988, George H.W. Bush and former Kansas Senator Bob Dole became bitter political rivals, with Dole at one point in the 1988 campaign telling Bush to his face to “stop lying about my record.” Notwithstanding that moment, the men, both members of the Greatest Generation that gave their all of their nation in World War Two reconciled and, yesterday, Senator Dole saluted his old friend and political rival:

Former Sen. Bob Dole was helped out of his wheelchair Tuesday to salute former President George H.W. Bush as he lay in state at the Capitol Rotunda.

Bush’s son Jeb acknowledged the moment on Twitter, thanking the Kansas Republican and calling his salute “Just incredible.”

Dole, 95, once faced Bush during the 1988 Republican primary fight for the presidential nomination but nonetheless maintained a decades-old friendship with the former president.

On Saturday, he reflected on their relationship, telling CNN’s Ana Cabrera that his passing was an end of an era, as Bush was the last World War II veteran to serve as president. Dole also served in the war.

“I believe there are certain qualities that veterans have, and when Bush was president, I think about three-fourths of Congress were veterans and we would stick together and work together across the aisle. And President Bush was a bipartisan president. So we got quite a lot done,” Dole said.

Here’s video of the moment:

Dole isn’t in the best of health himself, obviously, but this moment mirrors one that occurred six years ago when Washington paused to pay tribute to the late Senator from Hawaii Daniel Inouye, who also served in World War II in the European theater along with Dole while Bush was serving in the Pacific. Little did those three men know at the time how much their respective lives would intersect in the future.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. James Pearce says:

    Touching tribute, but man, I hope I never get that old.

  2. Anonne says:

    @James Pearce: Getting old is a privilege that many people don’t obtain.

  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    What a moment….

  4. CSK says:

    @James Pearce:

    Dole’s life is limited by the wheelchair, but he may well savor the pleasures he has remaining. Often the very old do.

  5. Kathy says:

    I recall Dole’s campaigns in 88 and 96. I wouldn’t have voted for him, but he struck me as a decent man. He could also fight hard without resorting to the cheap shots that are all some current politician is only capable of.

    It’s been pointed out his near-total lack of charisma cost him the presidency. I suppose it didn’t help, but he also ran at very bad times. Bush was deeply associated to a successful and popular, if mired in scandal, administration. Clinton was popular enough, and 96 was the backlash year in response to the GOP takeover of Congress in 94. By 2000 he was just too old. Bad timing.

  6. Jay L Gischer says:

    I think Dole’s remarks about veterans is very solid. I think this is something important, and seldom mentioned.

  7. Michael Reynolds says:


    Dole’s life is limited by the wheelchair, but he may well savor the pleasures he has remaining. Often the very old do.

    Yep. If you still care about following the story – of life, of family, maybe just a good TV show – and the pain isn’t too bad, why not hang around?

  8. James Pearce says:


    Getting old is a privilege that many people don’t obtain.

    I’ve already reached the “getting old is a privilege” stage. It’s the “can’t hardly move and needs help to do simple tasks” stage I want to avoid.

  9. Richard Gardner says:

    To get a measure of Bob Dole”s life today – I hope to matter as much as his age should I make it.
    JUNE 2018