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Bob Dole, Senator and Presidential Candidate, Dies at Age 98

Bob Dole, the Republican from Kansas who served in the Senate from 1969 to 1996 before making a presidential run, died in his sleep on Sunday morning, according to reports. He was 98 years old.

An announcement was made by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, a group dedicated to military families. Dole’s widow Elizabeth created the foundation in 2012 after serving as a senator from North Carolina from 2003 to 2009.

Bob Dole’s career in politics began in 1950, at the Kansas House of Representatives. Ten years later he went to Washington, D.C. representing Kansas’s 6th District. When Kansas Senator Frank Carlson retired in 1968, Dole won the election to fill that seat.

While in the Senate, Dole served in many key positions, eventually becoming Senate Majority Leader. In 1976 he was President Gerald Ford’s running mate after then-Vice President Nelson Rockefeller retired. The duo lost to Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale.

Dole was in early rounds of contention as a presidential candidate in 1980 and 1988, and finally won the party’s endorsement in 1996. He and running mate Jack Kemp lost to incumbent President Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

After the 1996 campaign, Dole found a new career making television commercials for products like Visa, Viagra, and Pepsi. (The Pepsi one shows him really enjoying a Britney Spears dance routine.)

Dole won two purple hearts and the bronze star for his service during World War II. Following a combat injury in Italy, which brought him very close to death, he suffered numbness and restricted use of his arms for the rest of his life. Decades later, he was instrumental in the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. After his retirement, he appeared on the Senate floor to argue on behalf of the United Nations’s Disabilities Treaty. The measure was ultimately rejected by Senate Republicans.

Following the news of Dole’s passing, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that the flag atop the Capitol Building would fly at half-staff.

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