In Memoriam: Fallen Stars of 2021

Longtime politician and Republican former presidential candidate, Bob Dole, has passed away.

The Kansas native, who ran against Bill Clinton in the U.S. election in 1996 before retiring from politics, has died at the age of 98 after battling stage four lung cancer. The Elizabeth Dole Foundation confirmed the former Kansas Senator’s death in a statement shared on Twitter on Sunday, Dec. 5. 

“It is with heavy hearts we announce that Senator Robert Joseph Dole died early this morning in his sleep,” the statement read. “At his death, at age 98, he had served the United States of America faithfully for 79 years.”

In February, the former presidential nominee revealed the news about his cancer diagnosis.

“Recently, I was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. My first treatment will begin on Monday,” Dole said in a statement at the time. “While I certainly have some hurdles ahead, I also know that I join millions of Americans who face significant health challenges of their own.”

Dole, who served in the United States Army during World War II, first started his career as a lawyer before becoming a politician. In 1950, he ran for office for the first time and was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives for a two-year term.

A decade later, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives, where he served in the role from 1961 to 1969. In his final year as a member, he became the Republican Leader of the United States Senate. He held the position until 1996, when he announced his presidential run.

Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Dole first tried to run for president in 1980 but did not secure the Republican nomination. Winning candidate Ronald Reagan, a former Hollywood actor, was chosen instead and won the U.S. election the following year. Dole announced his second campaign for president in 1988, but fellow Republican leader George H. W. Bush ultimately secured the party’s nomination and was later elected president of the United States, serving one term until Clinton beat him in the 1992 ballot.

Amid his own battle against Clinton for the presidency in 1996, Dole resigned as a senator, saying at the time that he had “nowhere to go but the White House or home,” per The New York Times.

When Dole won the Midwestern primaries, he became the oldest presidential nominee at the age of 73 years. During his acceptance speech, he said, “Let me be the bridge to an America that only the unknowing call myth. Let me be the bridge to a time of tranquillity, faith, and confidence in action.”

After retiring from politics, Dole started a new chapter, starring in television commercials for brands such as Viagra, Visa and Pepsi—appearing in the company’s 2001 Super Bowl ad starring Britney Spears.

According to NBC News, Dole also continued his commitment to helping fellow war veterans and returned to his legal career, working as special counsel for the international law firm Alston & Bird.

Dole is survived by his wife Elizabeth Dole, 85, and his daughter Robin Dole, 67, who he shared with his first wife, the late Phyllis Holden.

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