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Current, former lawmakers respond to Bob Dole cancer diagnosis

Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 3:48 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Thursday morning, (Feb. 18) former Kansas Senator, decorated World War II veteran and former GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole announce he has Stage 4 lung cancer. Dole, 97, said he’ll begin his first treatment Monday. He said he has hurdles ahead but knows he joins millions of Americans who face significant health challenges of their own.

Eyewitness News spoke with current and former congressmen and friends of Dole who expressed their support for him in his fight against cancer and spoke about what Dole means to them, the country and his home state.

A Russell, Kansas native, Dole grew up in the Depression era. He served in the Army during World War II where he suffered serious injuries but fought back to overcome physical disabilities.

He started his political career serving as a U.S. Senator from 1969 to 1996. In that near three-decade run, he served as both the Senate majority and minority leader. He ran as the GOP nominee for president in 1996, losing the election to 42nd U.S. President Bill Clinton. Clinton awarded Dole the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1997 and in 2018, Congress awarded the retired senator the Congressional Gold Medal. The awards are two of the nation’s highest honors.

The current and former congressmen who spoke with Eyewitness News about Dole’s diagnosis said the 97-year-old is a fighter.

“The man who has faced health challenges since he was wounded on the battlefields in Italy is no less determined to get well now, a statement from recently retired Senator Pat Roberts said. “We know cancer is tough, but Bob Dole is tougher.”

Former Secretary of Agriculture (and former congressman) Dan Glickman said he would never count Dole out.

“You know, he was injured in the war and he ended up with many pieces of his body injured or gone, but he always persevered,” Glickman said. “And Kansas has its slogan, “Ad Astra Per Aspra,” which means, “To the stars through difficulties.” And that really is Dole.”

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) released a statement wishing the best for the man he respects as a leader and considers a friend. He told Topeka station WIBW the news made him think of the words from Dole’s favorite song.

“I am saddened to hear that Kansas Senator Bob Dole has been diagnosed with cancer. Sen. Dole is someone I respect as a leader and consider a friend to me and Robba,” said Moran. “We are praying for him and Sen. Elizabeth Dole as they tackle this new challenge. I know I speak for Kansans when I say we are all thinking of Sen. Dole and wishing him comfort and healing.

“Bob, as you face the news of this illness, I am reminded of the words from your favorite song.

“Walk on through the wind, Walk on through the rain, Though your dreams be tossed and blown, Walk on, walk on, With hope in your heart, And you’ll never walk alone.”

In his statement, Sen. Roger Marshall said he has “zero doubt in (his) mind Senator Dole will take this challenge head-on the same way as other challenges he faced in his life.”

“Senator Dole, just as you taught me that when there is any problem too big, just go listen to the people of Kansas,’ please know that the state we both love is behind you, and Laina and I and my entire family of course are behind you,” Marshall said. “We join all of Kansas in praying for God’s comfort and His healing hand, and peace for you, for Elizabeth, for Robin, and for your entire family during this difficult time.”

Rep. Ron Estes touted Dole’s strength as reason for being optimistic in the face of a difficult diagnosis.

“We’re hopeful and encouraged that his strength of purpose and strength of character will help beat this as well,” Estes said.

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