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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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After several surgeries and extensive rehabilitation, Bob Dole not only lived, but he made a better recovery than had ever been expected. The only lingering physical limitations for Dole are his paralyzed right arm and hand, and during public appearances he often keeps a pen in his right hand to make it appear less unusual. The Russell community showed him a great amount of support during his recovery, and as a memento of that support,
Dole still keeps a cigar box where donations toward his medical costs were collected. For his service in the military, Dole was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star. During his recovery, Dole also met his first wife, Phyllis Holden, who worked as a nurse in a Michigan hospital where Dole spent time. They married in June 1948.
After more than three years of recovery, Bob Dole took advantage of the G.I. Bill, which provided veterans with financial assistance for education. First, he attended the University of Arizona to study liberal arts. After a year there, he returned to Kansas to study law at Washburn Municipal College in Topeka. While attending college, Dole was encouraged to enter into politics. Dole ran as a Republican candidate for the Kansas state legislature (despite the fact that both of his parents were registered Democrats), and he won. Something of a moderate at that time, Dole might have been influenced in his party affiliation by advice from Republican leader John Woelk, who said, "If you really want to do something in politics in Kansas, you'd better declare yourself a Republican." In 1952, Dole received his undergraduate and law degrees, was admitted to the bar, and began practicing law in his hometown of Russell.
The early 1950s marked the beginning of Dole's prestigious career as a public official, which lasted for five decades. Dole held the aforementioned state legislature seat until 1953. After his term ended, he took up the position of county attorney of Russell County. In 1961, he was encouraged to run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives that was about to be vacated by a retiring incumbent. Because Dole had little name recognition outside of his home county, his campaign featured such gimmicks as a female singing group called "Dolls for Dole," the handing out of hundreds of cups of free Dole brand juice, and a coffin with a Frankenstein dummy in it bearing the sign, "You have nothing to fear with Dole." He also had his daughter, Robin (born in 1954), wear a banner saying, "I'm for Daddy—Are You?".
Dole won the Republican nomination, and went on to easily win the election over his Democratic opponent. Bob Dole won re-election to Congress twice more and, during this period, earned a reputation as a conservative willing to champion unpopular beliefs. One of these unpopular positions was supporting Barry Goldwater for president in 1964—a move that nearly lost him his second congressional term.
At the end of his third term in Congress, Dole decided to try for a position of more influence in the U.S. government.
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