WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday praised former Sen. Bob Dole as a “great American” for his service to the country during a ceremony awarding Dole the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by Congress.
Speaking at the Capitol Hill ceremony alongside Republican and Democratic congressional leaders, Trump recounted Dole’s decades of service, from his stint as a soldier during World War II to his time as the long-serving Senate Republican leader — a legacy the President said would endure for generations to come.
“In hearing (Dole’s) story they will truly learn what it means to be a great American. Bob, that is the legacy that you have left our nation and it will outlive us all. You are a friend, you are a patriot, a hero, a leader and today you have become a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal,” Trump said.
The President joined Republican and Democratic leaders in praising the 94-year-old former Republican presidential nominee on Capitol Hill Wednesday, four months after signing into law the bill awarding Dole the medal in recognition of his service to the United States “as a soldier, legislator and statesman.”
Dole was the only former Republican nominee to support Trump’s candidacy in the 2016 election. The Trump campaign also marked the occasion with a press release remarking on the “special bond” the two men formed. Dole also attended Trump’s inauguration.
“We have high regard for Senator Dole and the sacrifices he has made for our nation. President Trump respects a leader who will always put America first, even in the face of opposition from powerful political forces and conventional wisdom,” Michael Glassner, the Trump campaign’s executive director, said in a statement
Trump’s visit to Capitol Hill came as his chief of staff John Kelly made the rounds there, meeting with lawmakers in hopes of reaching a bipartisan immigration agreement. Trump was not scheduled to have any additional meetings while at the Capitol.
Dole was honored for his decades of service to the country. After serving in the US Army during World War II, Dole served in the Kansas House of Representatives, then the US House of Representatives, before eventually getting elected as a US senator from Kansas.
Dole climbed the ranks of the Republican Party, becoming its chairman and eventually the Senate Republican leader. He was nominated as the GOP presidential nominee in 1996, but was defeated by President Bill Clinton in that year’s election.