Bob Dole salutes longtime friend, former president Bush

Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole Tuesday morning stood and saluted President George H.W. Bush at the casket of the late president.

Like Bush, Dole is a World War II veteran. He arrived in the Capitol rotunda in a wheelchair pushed by an aide. At the casket's side, the aide lifted Dole, 95, into a standing position. Once steadied, Dole saluted.

Bush achieved the office that Dole sought in 1996 as the Republican presidential nominee.

Bush died on Friday at age 94. After saluting his friend Tuesday, Dole spoke with Eyewitness News by phone from Washington,D.C.

He says he knew he was going to stand in honor of Bush and figured he'd stand for a moment before sitting down.

"But then when I got up, something just told me to salute, I don't know what it was" Dole says. "...He was a good man."

In 1988, the two were opponents in the Republican primary seeking the party's nod to run for president. Dole and Bush worked closely since then, but even as political opponents, they were friends, Dole says.

One of his best memories of Bush came out of a sad situation, Dole says. After losing the 1992 presidential election, Bush accepted Dole's invitation to speak to fellow Republicans and "just be with his friends."

"He wrote me later, saying he didn't want to come, but (was) thankful (he) did," Dole says.

More recently, Dole says his time with Bush included a day spent in Texas about two years ago.

"We have a great relationship," Dole says.

Dole served Kansas in Congress for 36 years and stayed politically active after retiring from public office in 1996.

Tuesday, as he discussed the death of his longtime friend, he also shared a message expressing what Kansas means to him.

"I love my state and I love the people in it for sending me to Congress for 36 years,' he says. "So I have a great affection for the people of my state. And they were very loyal and I made great friends over that time."

He encourages Kansans and people across the country to take a moment to remember his friend being honored this week in Washington.

"I know everyone is busy, but they might just pause for a second, over dinner, or church this Sunday, and say a nice prayer for President Bush," Dole says.