LAWRENCE, Kan. — Former Republican U.S. Sens. Nancy Kassebaum and Bob Dole said they lament the erosion of bipartisanship among political leaders in Washington.
“We were proud to be traditional Kansas Republican conservatives,” Dole said at the University of Kansas’ Dole Institute of Politics on Saturday. Dole, 93, served in the U.S. Senate from 1969 to 1996 and U.S. House from 1961 to 1969. He unsuccessfully ran for president in 1996 against then-incumbent Democrat Bill Clinton.
“We understood to get things done you have Ds and Rs, but Nancy and I also had friends on both sides,” Dole said. “We were sent there to do a job, not call each other names.”
Kassebaum, who served 18 years in the Senate with Dole, said working across the aisle on complicated public policy challenges had lost its luster, The Topeka Capital Journal reported (http://j.mp/2cVpLBi). Kassebaum, 84, is the daughter of Alf Landon, the unsuccessful GOP presidential nominee in 1936. She was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978 and re-elected twice.
“What really is a concern is that people don’t trust or respect. We’re really lacking it today,” Kassebaum said. “That’s why so many people today say, ‘Oh, I’m so tired of all this yelling and shouting, we may just may not vote.'”
Kassebaum was also presented the 2016 Dole Leadership Prize, which is awarded annually to an individual or group whose public service inspired others. Kassebaum’s husband, the late Sen. Howard Baker, received the award in 2006. Other winners include Nelson Mandela, the Wounded Warrior Project and former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Dole said it wasn’t uncommon in the 1970s and 1980s, when both were in the U.S. Senate, for Democrats and Republicans to sit together and talk about family or life in their home state. He said those discussions can be the foundation of compromise.
“If everybody agreed with you, it’d be a dull life,” Dole said.
Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com