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Bob Dole is a former member of the U.S. House (1961-69) and U.S. Senate (1969-96) from Kansas. In 1996, he was the Republican Party's candidate for the presidency.
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Born in Kansas in 1923, Bob Dole began his political career by serving as a member of the Kansas state legislature (1951–1953), and later served four terms as prosecuting attorney for Russell County. From 1961 to 1969, Dole served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. From 1969 to 1996, he served in the U.S. Senate, where he earned titles as minority leader and majority leader. After defeat as Gerald Ford's running mate in 1976,
"As a young man in a small town, my parents taught me to put my trust in God, not government, and never confuse the two."
Dole ran for the presidency in 1996; he was defeated when President Bill Clinton won election to a second term.
Legendary Republican politician Bob Dole was born Robert Joseph Dole on July 22, 1923, in Russell, Kansas. Doran, Dole's father, ran a stand that sold eggs and cream. Dole's mother, Bina, sold Singer sewing machines and vacuum cleaners as a traveling saleswoman. Dole had one brother, Kenny, and two sisters, Gloria and Norma Jean.
When the Great Depression hit in the 1930s, the Doles had to struggle to make ends meet. The family moved into the basement of their home and rented out the upstairs to oilfield workers. Dole's parents instilled in him their values of hard work and sacrifice, and both of those would play a large role in Dole's later life. His parents also gave him a strong religious upbringing. Dole once explained, "As a young man in a small town, my parents taught me to put my trust in God, not government, and never confuse the two."
As a youth, Dole was a member of the Boy Scouts, and also played sports, winning spots on several all-conference teams. He worked as a paperboy, and as a soda jerk at the local Dawson's Drugstore. The drugstore's owner remembered Dole as a "good worker." After completing high school, Dole attended the University of Kansas, where, inspired by the doctors that he had met while working at the drugstore, he enrolled in the premedical program in 1941.
Bob Dole's college career was soon interrupted by the United States' entry into World War II. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942, and was summoned to active duty in early 1943. Upon completing training programs in the United States, Dole became a combat infantry officer and was sent to Italy in 1944 to serve in a relatively safe area near Rome. The next year, Dole was transferred to a post near the Po Valley, in northern Italy. That region still held a German machine gun nest, and, despite Dole's relatively small amount of combat experience, he was ordered to lead an assault against it. The day of the assault was, as Dole put it, "the day that changed my life."
During the attack, an Army radioman went down under German fire. During his attempt to rescue the man, Dole himself was severely wounded. According to examinations by medics following the battle, Dole had sustained the following injuries: a shattered right shoulder, fractured vertebrae in his neck and spine, paralysis from the neck down, metal shrapnel throughout his body and a damaged kidney. The medics examining Dole thought him unlikely to survive.
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