Doles laud Kemp at Kansas lecture
Associated Press Writer
Lawrence, KS Kansas
LAWRENCE, Kan. ” America needs more politicians and public servants with the passion of Jack Kemp, his longtime friends Bob and Elizabeth Dole said Sunday.
At a lecture at the University of Kansas, the Doles honored Kemp, who died of cancer Saturday at the age of 73.
“He was one of those Republicans who wanted to make the party bigger for the right reasons,” Bob Dole said. “He’s just a good guy and a good friend.”
Kemp was Dole’s running mate in the 1996 presidential race, and he helped Elizabeth Dole campaign in North Carolina for the U.S. Senate.
“He’s just an example of the public servant that enjoys what he does. It’s heartbreaking,” Elizabeth Dole said.
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The Doles spoke to an afternoon crowd of more than 1,000 students, faculty and residents at the Lied Center, located across the parking lot from the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics. Bob Dole served six terms in the Senate after beginning his career as county attorney, legislator and member of the House of Representatives.
Elizabeth Dole, who last year lost her re-election bid to the Senate, served as transportation secretary for President Ronald Reagan and labor secretary for President George H.W. Bush before spending 1991-1998 as head of the American Red Cross.
Mixing stories from their long and distinguished political careers, the Doles also shared their humor and insight to their special relationship that dates to the 1970s.
Early in the lecture, Elizabeth Dole began telling a story about the challenges of being a woman in politics and public service in the 1960s. Her husband urged her to keep it moving and not take too long.
“This is an interesting story,” she said.
“How long is it,” he asked.
“You’re going to get into trouble. Who’s going to fix you dinner,” she replied.
So went most of the hourlong session, moderated by Bill Lacy, a former Republican adviser who serves as director of the Dole Institute. The Doles encouraged students and young adults to take an active role in politics and public service, saying that the nation needed strong leaders to come forward and help restore confidence while ending divisiveness in Washington.
“I really wanted to be president. I drove by the White House a lot,” said Dole, who was President Gerald Ford’s running mate in 1976.
Dole said he is working with former Sens. George Mitchell, Tom Daschle and Howard Baker on health care reform. The goal is to come up with a bipartisan solution that may not please everyone, but will increase access and control costs.
“I think the American people are ready. We’ve got to fix it,” he said. “When everybody gives a little, that’s bipartisanship.”
The couple live in Washington, where Bob Dole still practices law and has helped raise money for various causes, none more important to him than the creation of the World War II memorial on the National Mall. He still meets veterans from that war who participate in what are known as Honor Flights, or free trips that bring veterans to the memorial.
Dole was wounded on April 14, 1945, in Italy. After several surgeries and much rehabilitation, he entered public life. He said World War II veterans often feel like they are “out of the loop” and forgotten by their country, and he makes a point to meet as many of the groups as he can when they arrive in Washington to spend the day at the memorial.
“There’s no greater gift,” he said.
Dole said he spoke with Sen. Arlen Specter after Specter’s decision last week to switch from the Republican Party to the Democratic. Both men have roots in Russell, Kan., though Specter represents Pennsylvania in the Senate. Dole said Specter would continue to vote his own mind and keep his independent spirit, adding he would cause Democrats as many fits as he did Republicans over the years.
“He’s my friend. I don’t like what he did, but he’s still my friend,” Dole said.