US Republican politician, leader of his party in the Senate 1985–87 and 1995–96. He unsuccessfully stood as a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980 and 1988; in 1996 he captured the nomination, but lost the presidential election to Democrat Bill Clinton. Regarded initially as a hardline right-of-centre ‘mainstreet’ Republican, he later moderated his views, particularly in the social sphere, but he lacked the charisma needed to be elected president. He retired from politics in 1996 and became a special counsel to a Washington law firm.
Dole was born in Kansas, the son of a Methodist trader. He was severely wounded in Italy during World War II, permanently losing the use of his right arm. He went on to train as a lawyer and was elected to the House of Representatives 1960 and to the Senate 1968, representing his home state. He chaired the Republican Party's National Committee 1971–73 during the Nixon administration, and was chair of the Senate Finance Committee 1981, responsible for getting President Reagan's tax bills through Congress.
As Gerald Ford's running mate during the 1976 presidential campaign, he got the reputation of being a ruthless manipulator. During the Irangate scandal (revelation of the illegal sale of arms to Iran by members of the US government in order to fund the rebels in Nicaragua) 1986–87, he was spokesperson for the Republican Party.
In 1975 he married Elizabeth Hanford, a Transportation and Labor Secretary under presidents Reagan and Bush, and a US senator from 2003.