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Bob Dole's OdysseyDemocracy in America '96
Airdate: October 20, 1996
Bernard Shaw introduction:
Throughout the long arc of his public career, from his earliest days in Kansas politics to his decision to quit the Senate, Bob Dole has been a pragmatist. But he carries within him a vision, borne of his experience. Good Evening. Tonight, we're going to look at the man and his record to learn more about his leadership and direction for the country. It is a complex record, because Dole is a complex man. His roots run deep in the bedrock principles of Midwestern Republicanism. He has the wary outlook of a boy who lived through the Depression in a small Kansas town, and he still hears the dark echoes of the enemy gunfire that left its mark half a century ago. Special Correspondent Ken Bode traces Bob Dole's Odyssey.
Correspondent: Ken Bode
Producer: Jim Connor
Editor: Cliff Hackel
BOB ELLSWORTH, DOLE ADVISER:
"In the western end of the state, there was not much other than cattle and wheat and oil. EVERYBODY WAS POOR; IT WAS THE DEPRESSION. LAND WAS NOT WORTH ANYTHING."
In Russell, and to the people of Russell, Bob Dole represented all the possibilities of life -- smart, dutiful, ambitious, and a star athlete in football, basketball and track. Off to college he went, the first in his family.
"He was so good he had been recruited to come to kansas, which was a great basketball power then as it is today, to play basketball. HE WANTED ULTIMATELY TO BE AN M.D., A DOCTOR, BUT IN THE MEANWHILE, WHY NOT WIN AN OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL?"
But World War II interrupted Dole's ambitions, then changed them, forever.
Dole spent 39 months shuttling between V.A. hospitals. The people of Russell chipped in, making it possible for his parents to travel to see him. His arms would never recover enough to be a doctor, so Dole made the first of many pragmatic decisions: He would go to law school.
Still a student, Dole was recruited to run for office. Both parties wanted young war heroes.
WALT RIKER, DOLE'S FORMER PRESS SECRETARY:
" -- THE STORY GOES -- AND HE TELLS IT VERY WELL -- IS THE PARTY CHAIRMAN OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IN RUSSELL KANSAS TOLD HIM THERE WERE MORE REPUBLICANS REGISTERED THAN DEMOCRATS; I.E., THEREFORE, HE HAD A NICE LEG UP IF HE DECLARED HIMSELF A REPUBLICAN. AND THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT HE DID."
"THE COUNTY ATTORNEY'S JOB WAS OPEN -- IT WAS A GOOD CHECK, AND A POLITICAL JOB. AND HE BY THAT TIME HAD DECIDED ON A POLITICAL CAREER."
Dole served eight years as Russell County Attorney. The job included signing the welfare checks for the needy -- including payments to his own grandparents. An early, personal lesson in the benefits of the social safety net.
PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES ARE OFTEN CALLED UPON TO STATE THEIR VISION FOR AMERICA. FOR BOB DOLE THIS QUESTION OF VISION COMBINES HIS EAęȚĂST DAYS IN RUSSELL, HIS WOUND AND STRUGGLE FOR REHABILITATION, ALSO -- THOUGH HE DOESN'T OFTEN STRESS THEM IN THIS CAMPAIGN -- HIS 35 YEARS IN THE HOUSE AND SENATE, WHERE HE MADE 17,000 RECORDED VOTES . WHEN EVERY IMPORTANT DECISION WAS MADE OVER THE PAST 15 YEARS, BOB DOLE WAS IN THE ROOM. HE DOESN'T FIND IT EASY TO SAY HIMSELF, BUT BOB DOLE'S VISION TRULY IS THE SUM OF HIS ROOTS AND HIS EXPERIENCE.
Dole came to Congress in 1960. He bided his time in the House, and chose his friends wisely, backing Gerald Ford's bid for Republican leader.
FORMER PRESIDENT GERALD FORD:
"AND WE WON BY THE LAND SLIDE MARGIN OF 73 TO 67. SO BOB DOLE'S SUPPORT WAS CRUCIAL IN GETTING ME ON THE LEADERSHIP TRACK."
In 1968, Dole grabbed the first chance to move up to the Senate, running for an open seat. The same year Richard Nixon was elected President. As a freshman Senator, Dole again chose his friends carefully, becoming a strong Nixon defender.
NOEL KOCH, NIXON STAFF:
"HE WAS SUPPORTING PRESIDENT NIXON ON VIETNAM AND HIS REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES WERE OFF HIDING IN THE WEEDS."
Noel Koch worked at the Nixon White House, and later, for Dole.
"HE WANTED TO BE CLOSE TO THE WHITE HOUSE AND THAT WAS THE WAY HE GOT CLOSE TO THE WHITE HOUSE, AND THERE WAS A PAYOFF. HE BECAME CHAIRMAN OF THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE."
When Watergate broke, Dole loyally defended Nixon --
LYNN NOFZIGER, NIXON STAFF:
"DOLE WENT IN THERE AND HE WAS A PARTISAN REPUBLICAN. AND HE THOUGHT PART OF HIS JOB WAS TO DEFEND THE PRESIDENT."
-- even though Watergate was a political threat to all Republicans, including himself.
"IN FACT ONE OF THE DEMOCRATS SAID THE BURGLARY TOOLS WERE HIDDEN IN MY APARTMENT. [LAUGHTER] I COULDN'T FIND THEM!"
SENATOR DOLE'S RECORD WAS SOLIDLY CONSERVATIVE. BUT ON CERTAIN ISSUES HE DEVELOPED AN APPETITE FOR BIPARTISANSHIP. WHEN A LIBERAL DEMOCRAT HEADED THE SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON FOOD AND NUTRITION FOR EXAMPLE, DOLE WORKED WITH HIM, ONCE AGAIN SHOWING HIS BELIEF IN GOVERNMENT AS THE PROVIDER OF LAST RESORT.
FORMER SENATOR GEORGE MCGOVERN:
"HE WAS THE MOST VALUABLE ALLY I HAD IN THE SENATE DURING THE 1970'S IN PUSHING THROUGH WHAT HAS BECOME THE MAJOR FOOD ASSISTANCE AGENDA OF THE COUNTRY."
Dole gets credit for a major role in developing the country's attack on hunger. It should be noted however, that there was a practical purpose behind Dole's partnership with McGovern.
"HE ALSO KNEW THAT ENLARGING THE SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM, THE FOOD STAMP PROGRAM, WOULD PROVIDE NEW MARKETS FOR KANSAS WHEAT FARMERS, KANSAS DAIRY PRODUCERS."
FORD ANNOUNCES RUNNING MATE, 1976:
"I AM REALLY THRILLED WITH THE OPPORTUNITY OF HAVING BOB DOLE AS MY RUNNING MATE."
In 1976, an old favor was repaid. President Gerald Ford needed a running mate from the Midwest and it helped to be from Kansas.
"WE HAD TO HAVE A PARTNER WHO WOULD HELP CARRY THE STATES WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI, AND BOB DOLE FITTED THAT PATTERN PERFECTLY."
First stop for the new ticket: Russell, Kansas. The '76 campaign introduced Bob Dole to America. Ford was campaigning from the White House; Dole's job was to attack the Democrats. The most indelible moment of the campaign was in the first ever Vice Presidential debate.
DOLE AT 1976 VICE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE:
"IF WE ADDED UP THE KILLED AND WOUNDED IN DEMOCRATIC WARS IN THIS CENTURY, IT WOULD BE ABOUT 1.6 MILLION AMERICANS, ENOUGH TO FILL THE CITY OF DETROIT."
WALTER MONDALE AT 1976 VICE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE:
"I THINK SENATOR DOLE HAS RICHLY EARNED HIS REPUTATION AS HATCHET MAN TONIGHT...
Dole appeared harsh and combative. Following the loss in '76, Dole retreated into the Senate. He decided for the first time to run for President in 1980,
but lasted only until New Hampshire. Dole's real commitment in those years was for mastery of the Senate Finance Committee, then, the Senate itself.
"LOOK AT WHAT HE'S DONE GIVEN THE ODDS HE HAD TO FACE IN THE CONGRESS I MEAN, HE HAD TO WORK WITH THE LIBERAL HALL OF FAME -- THE TED KENNEDYS, THE GEORGE MITCHELLS, THE TIP O'NEILL'S, THE BOB BYRDS. I MEAN, TRY THAT SOME TIME."
Dole ran again for President, in 1988, this time losing to George Bush in the early primaries.
"I'VE BEEN BEATEN BEFORE AND NO DOUBT, WILL AGAIN, BUT I'VE NEVER BEEN DEFEATED, AND NEVER WILL BE."
For Dole, once again it was back to the Senate. The loyal support he showed to President Nixon in his earliest days, then to President Reagan, Dole now gave to Bush.
SENATOR ALAN SIMPSON, R-WYOMING:
"YOU COULD GO TO ANY DEMOCRAT OR ANY REPUBLICAN AND SAY, "DO YOU TRUST BOB DOLE?" AND THE ANSWER WOULD BE YES."
In the Bush years, Dole's most important personal accomplishment was in working with the Democrats to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act --
Few bills got to the Senate floor without Dole's mark on them.
BURDETTE LOOMIS, POLITICAL SCIENTIST:
"HE'S A PERSON WHO UNLOCKED THE DOOR TO THE SENATE, YOU KNOW, AT 8 AM IN THE MORNING AND LOCKED IT UP AGAIN AT 10 AT NIGHT. It's the kind of almost dirty, tough-minded work that legislation is."
With Bill Clinton in the White House, Dole found himself dealing with a president to whom he owed no loyalty. In the first year, Dole told Clinton he would have to pass his tax and deficit plan with no Republican votes -- none.
DAVID KEENE, DOLE ADVISER:
"AT THAT POINT BOB DOLE THE HAS-BEEN BECAME THE800 POUND REPUBLICAN GORILLA and by 94 and 95 it was clear that he was going to be the front runner if he chose to run."
And run he did, this time with the solid backing of the Republican establisment all across the country. In 1996, on his third try, Bob Dole locked up the nomination and could see the ambition of a life time within reach.
Act Two: Taxes
BERNARD SHAW: When Bob Dole came to Congress in the Sixties, he voted against Great Society programs like Medicare and Head Start because they expanded government and added to the deficit. Those votes helped him establish a reputation as a fiscal conservative. Now, behind in the polls, in need of a boost, Dole has made a change at odds with his record, but in keeping with his pragmatic nature. Again, Ken Bode:
They say to understand Bob Dole, you must understand Kansas. Pay on time; don't buy what you can't afford. That applies both to people and to government.
WALT RIKER, DOLE'S FORMER PRESS SECRETARY:
"IMAGINE GROWING UP ON THE PLAINS OF KANSAS DURING THE DEPRESSION, THE DUST STORM YEARS, THE WHOLE FAMILY HAVING TO WORK ALMOST AROUND THE CLOCK TO MAKE ENDS MEET."
ROBERT ELLSWORTH, DOLE ADVISER:
"THEY SAY HE IS A DEFICIT HAWK, BUT THAT DOESN'T DESCRIBE THE INTENSITY OF HIS AVERSION TO DEBT."
Bob Ellsworth grew up in Kansas about the same time as his friend Bob Dole.
"WHEN HE WAS GROWING UP AS A KID IN THE PART OF KANSAS WHERE HE WAS OUT WEST, PEOPLE WOULD DIE FROM DEBT."
Dust Bowl Kansas. Families lost crops, lost farms, lost homes, and lost hope. Dole has never forgotten.
DOLE AT DEBATE:
"WE WANT TO RESTRAIN THE GROWTH OF GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS, NOT END FEDERAL PROGRAMS... AND I WOULD SHARE THE VIEW THAT WE NEED A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT FOR A BALANCED BUDGET."
Senator Dole running for President in 1980. Ronald Reagan won that nomination with a different idea: Supply side economics.
PRESIDENT REAGAN, 1981:
"THIS REPRESENTS 750 BILLION DOLLARS IN TAX CUTS OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS."
Cut taxes to stimulate growth. That in turn would increase government revenues and cover the deficit. Supply side economics. Bob Dole had doubts.
But Senator Dole was President Reagan's man in the Senate, helping pass those historic tax cuts. Just a year later, when he saw that supply side economics had ballooned the deficit, Dole worked hard to raise government revenues by closing tax loopholes, and pushing through what was then the largest tax increase in history.
LYNN NOFZIGER, REAGAN AIDE:
"DOLE CERTAINLY WAS NOT A BELIEVER IN TAX CUTS. HE FELT YOU NEED TO RAISE TAXES TO BALANCE A BUDGET."
DOLE AT 1987 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN ANNOUNCEMENT:
"AT NO POINT HAS OUR GOVERNMENT BEEN WILLING TO FACE AND WEIGH THE TOUGH CHOICES."
BODE: Dole made debt and the deficit a centerpiece of his past presidential campaigns.
"THE FEDERAL BUDGET DEFICIT IS THE SINGLE GREATEST THREAT TO A PROSPEROUS AND DYNAMIC AMERICA. MY PLEDGE TODAY IS TO TACKLE THE RUNAWAY FEDERAL DEFICIT HEAD-ON WITHOUT RAISING TAX RATES."
DAVID KEENE, DOLE ADVISER:
"THE HALLMARK OF MIDWESTERN REPUBLICANISM HAS ALWAYS BEEN BOOK BALANCING."
Long time adviser David Keene says Dole's background distinguishes him on this issue:
"A MIDWESTERN CONSERVATIVE IS DIFFERENT FROM A THINK TANK CONSERVATIVE OR A THINK-TANK REPUBLICAN. HE'S SOMEBODY WHO REALLY CAME UP THROUGH A SYSTEM THAT PUT HIM CLOSE TO THE PEOPLE THAT HE'S GOVERNING ON BEHALF OF."
Dole always attacked the think-tank supply-siders who believed it was possible to cut taxes and reduce the deficit at the same time.
"DON'T GIVE ME THE PAINLESS SOLUTION THAT SOMEHOW WE'RE GOING TO GROW OUR WAY OUT OF ALL THIS DEFICIT THAT WE HAVE."
When he began this last race for the White House, back in Kansas, Bob Dole called once again for smaller government, and fiscal responsibility.
DOLE AT 1995 ANNOUNCEMENT:
"BALANCE THE BUDGET WILL ALSO BE A TOP PRIORITY. WE CANNOT CONTINUE MORTGAGING OUR CHILDREN'S FUTURE. AND WE WILL GIVE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE A BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT."
FOR MORE THAN THIRTY YEARS, BOB DOLE BURNISHED HIS REPUTATION AS A FISCAL CONSERVATIVE . IT IS AN ABSOLUTELY COHERENT PART OF HIS PHILOSOPHY, FROM HIS EARLIEST DAYS IN NATIONAL POLITICS. IT REFLECTS DEEPLY HELD BELIEFS THAT GO BACK TO DEPRESSION-ERA POVERTY IN KANSAS. NOW, HOWEVER, IN HIS LAST CAMPAIGN, HE HAS EMBRACED A SUPPLY-SIDER RUNNING MATE IN JACK KEMP, AND OFFERED THE VOTERS A SUPPLY-SIDE TAX CUT. IT IS A STRIKING DEPARTURE.
"They're both examples of dole's ability to stand back and look at a problem or a situation, EVEN ONE IN WHICH HE IS INTIMATELY INVOLVED, AND ASK HIMSELF, "WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO GET FROM WHERE I AM TO WHERE I WANT TO GO?"
DOLE AT CAMPAIGN APPEARANCE:
"WE'VE HAD A LONG DEBATE IN OUR PARTY ABOUT WHICH SHOULD COME FIRST. GROWTH ADVOCATES SAY TAX CUTS FIRST. FISCAL CONSERVATIVES SAY A BALANCED BUDGET FIRST. AND I SAY THEY'RE BOTH RIGHT."
BODE: Former Senator George Mitchell worked with and against Dole on the Senate Finance Committee and in the leadership of the Senate.
BODE & GEORGE MITCHELL, FORMER U.S. SENATOR:
Q: "WERE YOU SURPRISED WHEN SENATOR DOLE CHANGED HIS MIND ON TAXES? A: NO, NO. Q: YOU WEREN'T? A: NO, NO. Q: TELL ME WHY. A: BECAUSE I DON'T THINK HE HAD A PRAYER OF BEING ELECTED WITHOUT THAT AND NOW HE AT LEAST HAS A PRAYER."
"OUR COUNTRY HASN'T HAD A TAX CUT IN TEN YEARS, AND YOU'VE WAITED LONG ENOUGH, YOU'RE GONNA GET ONE STARTING NEXT YEAR When Jack Kemp and I are elected, the wait will be over. We're gonna cut taxes fifteen percent across the board." [applause]
BODE: Some friends and allies were surprised by Dole's fiscal conversion:
BODE & WARREN RUDMAN, FORMER U.S. SENATOR:
Q: YOU WERE DISAPPOINTED IN THAT PLAN WEREN'T YOU? A: I WAS DISAPPOINTED. TOLD HIM SO AND TOLD HIS STAFF SO AND ARGUED AGAINST IT AHEAD OF TIME. what finally came out is somewhat of a gradual tax cut as opposed to a flat 15 percent. i think that's Bob Dole's caution in case it doesn't work."
"WE'RE NOT TALKING NUCLEAR PHYSICS HERE!"
In his campaign travels, Dole makes the case that his plan will work if the House and Senate remain in Republican hands.
DOLE AT RALLY:
"WITH TODAY'S PRO GROWTH REPUBLICAN CONGRESS, BALANCING THE BUDGET AND CUTTING TAXES IS JUST A MATTER OF PRESIDENTIAL WILL. IF YOU HAVE IT, YOU CAN DO IT. I HAVE IT AND I WILL DO IT, MY FRIENDS."
"What's incredible is that only a decade has passed SINCE IT WAS TRIED AND FAILED. USUALLY IN AMERICAN POLITICAL HISTORY IT TAKES A FEW DECADES BEFORE WE REINVENT THE WHEEL, AND WE ADOPT IN A NEW PACKAGING THE FAILED POLICIES OF THE PAST."
Can Dole pull it off? Can he onvince the voters that he is now a supply side advocate who not only will deliver on a tax cut but also avoid ballooning the deficit?
BURDETTE LOOMIS, POLITICAL SCIENTIST:
"I think you're seeing a pragmatist, a guy who will do what it takes to win this election."
Kansas political scientist Burdette Loomis has been watching Dole's career, and this recent transformation.
"I THINK HE IS CAUGHT IN THIS DILEMMA, THAT HE IS WHO HE IS, and trying in 1996 to redefine himself,without a tie, with a supply sider as vice president, may be a better job of acting than Bob Dole is capable of."
Act Three: Abortion
SHAW LEAD: Abortion is a central issue in the modern Republican Party. Religious and social conservatives demand that their Presidental candidate stake out an anti-abortion position. But to win the election, Bob Dole must attract moderate women who support abortion rights. As Ken Bode reports, it is a difficult straddle for Dole.
1974. A year after the Roe v Wade decision guaranteed a woman's right to an abortion. The year that the Watergate scandal brought down a President. Former Republican National Chairman Bob Dole, Nixon defender Bob Dole faced a tough re-election in Kansas. He trailed Democratic Congressman Bill Roy.
BILL ROY, FORMER CONGRESSMAN SOT:
" I WAS PROBABLY UP IN TWO DIGITS, 10 POINTS, 12 POINTS, SOMETHING LIKE THAT."
"I'd been chairman of the party during Watergate. 1974 WASN'T ONE OF OUR BETTER YEARS."
The disgraced Nixon hung like a millstone around Dole's neck. Dole needed an issue to take the focus off himself.
"I'VE DELIVERED OVER EIGHT THOUSAND BABIES IN A 25-YEAR CAREER AND I DID SOME ABORTIONS AFTER THE 1969 LAW WHICH REQUIRED TWO CONSULTATIONS."
DR. ROY IS AN OBSTETRICIAN. ROY'S ABORTION RECORD, AMOUNTED TO ONE OR TWO A YEAR. ABORTION WAS LEGAL UNDER KANSAS LAW TO SAVE THE LIFE OF THE MOTHER. BUT DOLE SIMPLY LABELED DR. ROY AS AN ABORTIONIST AND THAT GALVANIZED THE KANSAS RIGHT TO LIFE MOVEMENT. THOSE FOLKS BECAME THE FOOT SOLDIERS IN THE DOLE CAMPAIGN.
DOLE AT 1974 DEBATE:
"YA GOTTA WATCH THESE DOCTORS!"
Dole began the attack the only time the two men faced each other in a debate, asking Dr. Roy how many abortions had he performed.
"I THINK IT'S MORALLY REPUGNANT, I THINK IT'S WRONG. I'M ALSO OPPOSED TO ANY LAW THAT FAVORS ABORTION."
"SAID HE BELIEVES IN ABORTION BY DEMAND ON DEMAND [CROWD ROARS], SAYS I'M AGAINST IT PERSONALLY, OH NO -- DON'T BE FOOLED."
"I WAS PICKETED EVERYWHERE I WENT IN THE LAST MONTH, AND IT WAS SOMETHING THAT WAS DISTURBING TO OUR CAMPAIGN, AND SOMETHING THAT WAS VERY EFFECTIVE FOR HIM."
Dole's allies in the anti-abortion movement took skull-and-bones ads in the newspapers and leafleted neighborhoods with pictures of fetuses.
"THAT'S THE ACTUAL PIECE THAT WAS PRINTED. SEVERAL THOUSAND OF THOSE WERE DISTRIBUTED THROUGHOUT THE STATE. SOME OF THEM WERE DONE ON THE CHURCH PARKING LOT, SOME THE SUNDAY BEFORE THE ELECTION."
"DOCTOR ROY, HE LIKES THAT TITLE -- HE WANTS TO BE A DOCTOR SO BAD WE'RE GONNA TRY TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN.!"
Dole played the anti-abortion card because he needed to, and it worked. He won.
"IN THAT CLOSE AN ELECTION, ABORTION PROVIDED THE MARGIN. IT PROBABLY BENEFITED DOLE TO THE EXTENT OF THREE TO FIVE POINTS."
But ever since that close call in 1974, Bob Dole and the anti-abortion movement have had their doubts about each other.
DAVID KEENE, DOLE ADVISER:
"It's an issue that he's always been on one side of from the very beginning of his political career. AND HE'S NEVER REALLY CHANGED THAT POSITION. BUT IT IS NOT A POSITION AND IT IS NOT AN ISSUE THAT DOMINATES HIS LIFE, HIS CONCERNS OR HIS TIME.
THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT BOTHERS RELIGIOUS AND SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES -- DESPITE A PERFECT VOTING RECORD ON ANTI-ABORTION LEGISLATION, DOLE'S DIFFICULTIES WITH THE ISSUE HAVE GROWN AS ABORTION HAS BECOME A CENTRAL TENET OF THE MODERN REPUBLICAN PARTY. FRUSTRATED BY WHAT THEY SAW AS LIP SERVICE ON ABORTION FROM BOTH REAGAN AND BUSH, ANTI-ABORTION CONSERVATIVES ARE DETERMINED TO HOLD BOB DOLE'S FEET TO THE FIRE. AND DURING THIS YEAR'S PRIMARIES, THEY THOUGHT THEY SAW HIM BEGIN TO WAVER.
WOMAN AT SOUTH CAROLINA DEBATE:
"WOULD YOU OPPOSE A FIRST TRIMESTER ABORTION?"
During a debate in South Carolina, a woman asked the candidates if she were brutally raped would they oppose her having an abortion:
"YES I WOULD. I AM OPPOSED TO ABORTION AS I HAVE INDICATED BEFORE. I HAVE A STRONG PRO-LIFE RECORD, A CONSISTENT RECORD IN THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, AND I WOULD KEEP IT THAT WAY."
Then, Dole wavered. Listen:
"LET ME SUGGEST I SUPPORT THE EXCEPTION FOR RAPE, INCEST, LIFE OF THE MOTHER. BUT I WANT TO UNDERSCORE MY STRONG PRO-LIFE RECORD FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE THAT VIEW, AND AGAIN I THINK WE CAN HAVE DIFFERENT VIEWS AND STILL BE GOOD REPUBLICANS."
GARY BAUER, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL:
"IT WAS AN UNCLEAR ANSWER ABOUT A VERY PROFOUND ISSUE, AND I'VE NOT BEEN ABLE TO PARSE THE SENTENCES UNTIL THIS DAY."
Moderation was not what Gary Bauer and other anti-abortion leaders wanted to hear. They blocked Dole's call for tolerance in the Republican platform and prevented him from picking a pro-choice vice president.
"I KNOW TOLERANCE IS ONE OF THOSE POLITICALLY CORRECT WORDS THESE DAYS, BUT THERE ARE CLEARLY THINGS WE DON'T TOLERATE AND SHOULDN'T TOLERATE."
As the convention ended, Dole and his running mate Jack Kemp faced one of the most difficult problems of this election: moderate women voters defecting in favor of Clinton -- a hangover from a platform that makes abortion a constitutional crime.
SENATOR NANCY KASSEBAUM, R-KANSAS:
"IF WAR STARTED TOMORROW, PROBABLY THE FIRST QUESTION HE'D BE ASKED ABOUT IS ABORTION. WE'VE GOTTA GET BEYOND THAT IT'S AN ISSUE THAT'S GOING TO REMAIN A SORT OF LITMUS TEST FOR SOME. BUT FOR A VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE, THERE ARE OTHER ISSUES OUT THERE AS WELL."
Dole hasn't said much about abortion since the Republican Convention, but the pressure from religious social conservatives is constant.
"HE WILL NOT WIN THE ELECTION IN NOVEMBER UNLESS HE AND JACK KEMP ARE CLEARLY PRO-LIFE WHEN THIS ISSUE COMES UP. THIS IS THE HEART AND SOUL OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. IF THEY GO SOUTH ON THIS ISSUE, THEY'LL BE GENERALS WITH NO ARMY."
In 1974, Bob Dole's natural pragmatism led him to use the abortion issue to win re-election to the Senate. 22 years later the ever pragmatic Dole now says he hasn't even read his party's platform. And as he attempts to close a persistent double-digit gender gap among women, he says he would not be bound by that platform.
Correspondent: Ken Bode
Producer: Jim Connor
Editor: Cliff Hackel
BERNARD SHAW: Bob Dole is the last of a distinguished line: the presidential candidates who served their country during World War II. At 73, he is vigorous and active but his age raises questions about his ability to lead, and his perspective on issues that matter to younger voters. Dole makes an asset of his age, and as Ken Bode tells us, has always made a political asset of his war service, and the wounds that nearly cost him his life.
1974 DOLE CAMPAIGN COMMERCIAL:
"BUT THEN THE WAR BROKE OUT..."
A political commercial, broadcast in Kansas in 1974, telling the story of Dole's war injury.
Dole Campaign Ad:
THE MACHINE GUN AND FRAGMENT WOUNDS HE RECEIVED COST HIM 39 MONTHS IN ARMY HOSPITALS. THEY GAVE HIM THE BRONZE STAR WITH CLUSTER, BUT THEY COULDN'T GIVE HIM BACK THE USE OF HIS RIGHT HAND."
DOLE ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT FROM U.S. SENATE:
A LONG TIME AGO I AROSE FROM MY HOSPITAL BED AND WAS PERMITTED BY THE GRACE OF GOD TO WALK AGAIN IN THE WORLD. AND I TRUST IN THE HARD WAY - FOR LITTLE HAS COME TO ME EXCEPT IN THE HARD WAY.
"You'll look at him and say, he was shot, this guy went down on the battlefield, and you look at what he's doing, and it gives you goosebumps. IT INSPIRES LOYALTY AND INCREDIBLE DEVOTION."
SEN. NANCY KASSEBAUM::
I've never heard him complain, NEVER ONCE, AND I'M SURE THROUGH SOME DIFFICULT days. it has given him a real appreciation for - one for people who struggle."
AGE, HEALTH, HANDICAP AND SACRIFICE. ALL PARTS OF THE BOB DOLE STORY. HIS CAMPAIGN RELEASES HIS MEDICAL RECORDS, AND POINTS TO HIS WAR WOUNDS AS AN EMBLEM OF NATIONAL SERVICE. DOLE LOOKS HEALTHY, AND CAMPAIGNS VIGOROUSLY. BUT BOB DOLE'S AGE AND HIS HEALTH ARE AS TIED TO PUBLIC PERCEPTION AND GENERATIONAL PERSPECTIVE AS THEY ARE TO PHYSICAL REALITY.
Dole does have his share of medical problems, beginning with the war wound that shattered his right shoulder. It also rendered his right arm useless, and partially paralyzed his left arm. That injury eventually cost him his right kidney. In 1991, Dole had an operation which appears to have cured prostate cancer. Still, Bob Dole likes to brag that he's in better physical shape than Clinton.
MY CHOLESTEROL IS LOWER, MY WEIGHT IS LOWER, AND MY BLOOD PRESSURE IS LOWER...I'M NOT GONNA MAKE HEALTH AN ISSUE IN THIS CAMPAIGN."
...but the effects of the war wound are a daily reminder that Dole has physical limitations.
BURDETTE LOOMIS, POLITICAL SCIENTIST: "It is with him every day in terms of a visible sign -- he's grasping the pencil. IN MANY WAYS IT IS HIS SIGNATURE."
Simple things like putting on a coat take extra time.
NOEL KOCH, FORMER DOLE AIDE:
"HE HAS TO GET UP EARLIER THAN ANYONE ELSE BECAUSE HE DRESSES HIMSELF AND IT'S MORE DIFFICULT WITH HIS DISABILITY TO DO THAT. YOU HAVE TO ADD TWO HOURS TO HIS DAY THAT THE REST OF US WOULD BE USING FOR PRODUCTIVE LABOR.
For a politician, the injury presents special challenges.
WALT RIKER, FORMER DOLE PRESS SECRETARY:
"You know, the classic is THE POLITICIAN HOLDING THE BABY. WELL, YOU KNOW, BOB DOLE has a difficult time doing that with one arm."
DOLE WITH OLDER VOTERS:
"GOOD TO SEE YA, YA STILL WORKIN? WE GOT PLENTY OF JUICE LEFT, RIGHT?"
Then there is the matter of age. At 73, Dole would be the oldest president ever to be sworn in to a first term. -- 23 years older than the incumbent, Bill Clinton. Clinton calls attention to Dole's age in subtle ways --
"ALL THE REPORTERS ON THE PLANE WANTED TO KNOW WHY I WAS COMING TO ARIZONA."
-- and reminds people how much younger he is.
"I JUST GOT MY A.A.R.P. CARD -- I THOUGHT I'D COME CHECK IT OUT!"
Photo ops from the Clinton campaign make for obvious comparisons. Democratic ads stress the need for "new" ideas.
Comedians have seized on the issue of age as a running gag on late-night TV.
JAY LENO ON TONIGHT SHOW:
"BOB DOLE SAID ON THE RADIO THE OTHER DAY IN A SPEECH -- I THINK IT WAS ON AN OLDIES STATION ACTUALLY" [LAUGHTER]
Polls show that older Americans who are more experienced with the limitations that come with age are also most concerned with Dole's ability to do the job. Sometimes, Dole seems to be rooted in another age. Take his stand on tobacco.
DOLE ON NBC'S TODAY SHOW:
YOU KNOW THERE IS A MIXED VIEW AMONG SCIENTISTS WHETHER IT'S ADDICTIVE OR NOT -- I'M NOT CERTAIN WHETHER IT'S ADDICTIVE."
"WHAT HE DIDN'T GET WAS WHAT THE ATTITUDE IN THE COUNTRY IS TODAY, AND THE ATTITUDE IN THE COUNTRY TODAY IS THAT TOBACCO IS ADDICTIVE AND IT'LL KILL YOU, AND ALL THESE THINGS."
For Bob Dole, this issue is a matter of the government intruding into individual choices about smoking.
DOLE ON NBC TODAY SHOW:
"What's GONNA BE next? Are we going to regulate everybody's adult life? Adults ought to be free to make choices"
"WHAT HE SAID WAS THAT PEOPLE SHOULDN'T SMOKE BUT THAT HE DIDN'T THINK THE GOVERNMENT OUGHT TO BE BANNING IT, AND THAT PEOPLE WHO WANTED TO QUIT OUGHT TO QUIT."
"TODAY WE ARE TAKING DIRECT ACTION TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN FROM TOBACCO."
In August, President Clinton announced new regulations on tobacco.
"JOE CAMEL AND THE MARLBORO MAN WILL BE OUT OF OUR CHILDREN'S REACH FOREVER."
It was a subtle generational appeal: A President with a teenage daughter of his own helping families keep their children from smoking. Dole's reflects the attitudes of an older generation.
"AGE HAS ITS ADVANTAGES. LET ME BE THE BRIDGE TO A TIME OF TRANQUILLITY, FAITH AND CONFIDENCE IN ACTION."
BODE : Dole's contemporaries are mostly retired now -- his generation survived war, and depression, just as he has. It remains to be seen however, whether today's voters will value Dole's record of service, and respect his biography, or whether they will perceive him as being out of touch on the issues of concern to the next generation of Americans.
Act Five: First Term
Time now to raise some questions. If elected President, how would Bob Dole run the White House? What are his priorities for the country? How would President Dole deal with his former colleagues on Capitol Hill? Who would be his advisers? Special Correspondent Ken Bode has been seeking the answers to these and other questions.
One way to find out what Bob Dole would do as President is to listen to what he says on the campaign trail. On taxes, he sticks to his plan for a 15 percent cut and reminds voters that Clinton promised a middle-class tax cut in '92, and failed to deliver.
DOLE AT CAMPAIGN RALLY:
"I'M NOT BILL CLINTON! I'M NOT GONNA PROMISE YOU A TAX CUT AND GIVE YOU A TAX INCREASE. I'M GONNA PROMISE YOU A TAX CUT, AND GIVE YOU A TAX CUT, AND THAT'S WHAT'S GONNA HAPPEN."
While his television commercials hit the President hard on the drug issue, Dole promises to get tougher with drug dealers and violent criminals:
"I WILL USE THE BULLY PULPIT OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO SAY TO YOUNG PEOPLE THAT DRUGS ARE DEADLY."
He would use the bully pulpit -- at the least -- on the subject of sex and violence in television, movies and music.
"THERE CAN BE NO QUESTION THAT THE PERCEPTIONS OF A FIFTEEN YEAR OLD ARE SHAPED BY MUSIC, MOVIES AND FASHION."
OVERALL, PRESIDENTS HAVE A PRETTY GOOD RECORD OF LIVING UP TO THEIR CAMPAIGN PROMISES. ALSO, IF DOLE WINS THIS YEAR, HE WILL BE THE CREST OF A REPUBLICAN WAVE, AND HE CAN LOOK FORWARD TO AT LEAST TWO YEARS OF REPUBLICAN CONTROL OF CONGRESS. IN OTHER WORDS, SPEAKER GINGRICH WOULD HELP PRESIDENT DOLE SET THE AGENDA. AND FINALLY, BOB DOLE IS NO OUTSIDER -- HE WOULD GO TO THE WHITE HOUSE WITH THE BEST UNDERSTANDING OF CONGRESS OF ANY PRESIDENT SINCE LYNDON JOHNSON.
On the economic front --if a lifetime of public record is any guide, you have to assume that while President Dole cuts taxes, he would also try to find a way to keep the nation's budget in balance.
"BOB DOLE IS IN FACT A BUDGET CUTTER AND BALANCER. HE IS WILLING AND IS ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT TAX CUTS But he also wants to say where are we going to be able to make this government smaller?"
On values issues, the Christian Coalition would probably have a seat at the table in a Dole adminstration.
"My sense is that Dole, GINGRICH, LOTT AND THE CHRISTIAN COALITION CAN SIT DOWN AND SAY, "OKAY HERE'S WHERE WE'LL GO ON SCHOOL VOUCHERS, OR PRAYER IN THE SCHOOLS."
Abortion. Not a high priority for Dole personally, but Dole has made a commitment to ban a type of late-term abortion.
DOLE AT CAMPAIGN RALLY:
"IF THEY SEND ME THE PARTIAL BIRTH ABORTION BAN, I'LL SIGN IT, I WON'T VETO IT, I'LL SIGN IT."
On foreign policy, Dole has made clear his strong support of Israel, also said clearly that he would end America's commitment of troops to Bosnia. On the larger domestic issues: Medicare, Medicaid and the over all reform of budget busting entitlement programs -- Dole would attempt to moderate the growth without creating too much pain.
GEORGE MCGOVERN, FORMER U.S. SENATOR:
"It's very hard for me to believe that HE'S GOING TO SET OUT DISMANTLING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. I JUST DON'T BELIEVE THAT."
"I THINK THAT THE NEXT PRESIDENT, REGARDLESS, IS GOING TO HAVE TO TAKE ON ENTITLEMENT REFORM, BUT BOB DOLE, knowing how to come to a deal, knowing how to make a deal palatable, i think would be a good candidate for that."
We have asked people who know him: Who would he listen to?
"HE LISTENS TO A LOT OF PEOPLE AND MAKES HIS OWN DECISION. THEN IF HE DOES WHAT YOU THINK HE SHOULD HAVE DONE, YOU SAY, 'YEAH, HE TAKES ADVICE.'"
"HE LISTENS TO CERTAIN FRIENDS OF HIS IN THE SENATE. He certainly listens to Domenici, he listens very carefully to Mccain he certainly listens to Elizabeth Dole -- a lot."
He also listens to former Senator Warren Rudman.
"ARE YOU SOMEONE'S CLOSEST ADVISER IF YOU GIVE A LOT OF ADVICE TO HIM AND HE TAKES NONE OF IT OR VERY LITTLE OF IT? I'M NOT SURE. But I tell bob what i think, and he appreciates that from his friends. And to his credit, he listens."
Because of his damaged hands, Dole has difficulty reading and taking notes. People who know him say he compensates by picking up information in a variety of ways.
"BOB does not read books. I THINK HE GATHERS HIS INFORMATION ALMOST FROM SOUNDBITES, FROM CONVERSATIONS WITH PEOPLE, OCCASIONALLY FROM A MEMO."
Those who know him best say his experience in Washington would have a large impact on how things get done in a Dole Administration.
"HE WILL WRITE THE BOOK ON HOW PRESIDENTS SHOULD DEAL WITH THE CONGRESS."
"I THINK BOB DOLE WITH AN AGENDA WOULD BE A TRULY FORMIDABLE PRESIDENT."
Friends argue that Bob Dole, once the strongly partisan Republican National Chairman, actually would be a president that Democrats could work with.
"At core he's very partisan, but you know, he's partisan in the way Reagan was or the way Tip O'Neill was. HE CAN WORK WITH PEOPLE FROM EITHER PARTY, BUT HE'S ALSO A REPUBLICAN FIRST."
And finally, what kind of a guy is Bob Dole?
"You don't come through 36 months of laying IN A DARKENED ROOM AND SIT THERE AND BROOD BITTERNESS, THAT'S NOT HIM."
BODE & ELLSWORTH:
Q: "What does he like to do in his relaxed moments?" A: CAMPAIGN. [LAUGHS] Q: That's his hobby, huh? A: Yeah it is. It's his life."
It is a life at the pinnacle of national politics. A life that began in a small town at the center of the country. A life of old values learned early. Bob Dole's life-long odyssey toward the White House.
"THANK YOU VERY MUCH, GOD BLESS AMERICA."
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