Former Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole told USA Today he was “still a Trumper” as he approaches his 98th birthday on Thursday.
A former longtime senator from Kansas, Dole was one of the few GOP elder statesmen to support former President Donald Trump in 2016, and the only former presidential nominee to attend that year’s convention.
“I’m a Trumper,” Dole, who’s suffering from lung cancer, told USA Today. “I’m sort of Trumped out, though.”
Dole, during a recent interview in his Washington, D.C., Watergate complex apartment, did not blame voter fraud for Trump’s loss in the 2020 election.
“He lost the election, and I regret that he did, but they did,” Dole said. “He had Rudy Giuliani running all over the country, claiming fraud. He never had one bit of fraud in all those lawsuits he filed and statements he made.”
Dole was asked about how many Democrats want to abolish the Senate filibuster – a tactic, he said, that needs to be preserved.
“Both sides use it,” said the former Senate majority leader, who added praise for “the guy from West Virginia.”
That would be moderate Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who has upset progressives by saying he believes in keeping the filibuster.
Dole said he’d like to meet Manchin, inviting him over for a bipartisan chat.
Working with lawmakers across the aisle was something Dole did to achieve legislation. He and then-Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., forged a compromise to extend the solvency of the Social Security system in 1983, and he and then-Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., worked to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.
Dole expressed disappointment about the lack of bipartisanship in Congress now.
“I don’t like to second-guess, but I do believe we’ve lost something,” he said. “I can’t get my hand on it, but we’re just not quite where we should be, as the greatest democracy in the world. And I don’t know how you correct it, but I keep hoping that there will be a change in my lifetime.”
In February, about a month after taking office, President Joe Biden visited Dole. The two men served together in the Senate for more than two decades.
Dole, married to former Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., said he keeps “fairly busy.”
He told USA Today that he hopes to regain enough strength to make “one more trip home” to Kansas. He’d like to visit the Veterans Affairs medical center in Topeka, and meet with students at the University of Kansas’ Dole Institute of Politics in Lawrence.
Dole lost the use of his right arm and nearly his life after being wounded on a battlefield in Italy during World War II. He’s receiving immunotherapy to help tolerate stage 4 lung cancer.
A former House member and former chair of the Republican National Committee, Dole served as former President Gerald Ford’s running mate 1976. He then lost the 1996 presidential election to former President Bill Clinton.