The Bob Dole I Knew

The Bob Dole I Knew

The late Bob Squier was a leading Democratic strategist in 1992 who had been retained to produce a video tribute to Democratic Senate leader George Mitchell. I had lunch with Squire just after he and his camera crew had completed a lengthy interview for the project with Senator who was on his way to winning the Republican presidential nomination that year.

As we sat down to lunch, Bob said he hoped that Dole’s managers didn’t appreciate what he’d seen while doing that morning’s taping. He said he and his crew had seen the Bob Dole that one rarely saw in news accounts or, up until then, in the ads his campaign was televising in the Republican primaries.

“The guy we saw,” said Bob, “was funny, human, appealing and incredibly persuasive. Presented correctly, he strikes me as one of the best candidates one might imagine.” I told Bob I didn’t think the Democrats had much to worry about because his managers that year had already rejected suggestions from others like me that they should simply follow their candidate around for a day or so and tape his conversations in meetings, with colleagues, etc. “If you do that,” I urged, “ you will come up with the makings of some really effective advertising.”

That advice was rejected and while Dole would probably have lost to Bill Clinton that year anyway, the public never got a chance to get to know the Bob Dole that Squire saw that morning and who those of us who had worked with him over the years knew to be the real Bob Dole.

The Dole the media liked to portray back then was a caricature of the real Bob Dole who, in addition to being an effective partisan, was a smart, funny, loyal and compassionate man who came across in small and informal meetings as just the sort of candidate Squire met. That the public never really got to meet that Bob Dole until his retirement as an active politician says more about the partisan nature of much that passes for media coverage of politics than most will admit.

He will be remembered by the public for his recovery from grievous war wounds, as the most visible representative of what Tom Brokaw and others called our “Greatest Generation” and as the man who well into his nineties spent his weekends on the mall at the Memorial thanking other veterans of that war for their service. The rest of us will remember and honor all that, but will also remember Bob Dole as a friend and a man you could trust.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of American Liberty News.

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