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Bob Dole, a longtime Senate Republican leader and the party's presidential nominee in 1996, died Sunday at age 98.
"It is with heavy hearts we announce that Senator Robert Joseph Dole died early this morning in his sleep. At his death, at age 98, he had served the United States of America faithfully for 79 years."
Dole was in many ways the embodiment of the World War II generation in Congress. He had served in a combat division in Italy and suffered grievous wounds that kept him in military hospitals for years after the war. But despite losing the use of his right arm, he got through law school and became a public prosecutor, state legislator, representative and U.S. senator.
Dole was a giant of the Senate, a powerful committee chairman in the early 1980s and then party leader from 1985 until he resigned 11 years later, in 1996, to concentrate on his presidential campaign. He had won the GOP nomination easily that year but fought an uphill, losing campaign against incumbent President Bill Clinton. Previously, Dole had been the party's vice presidential nominee with President Gerald Ford in 1976 and had sought the presidential nomination in 1980 and 1988.
"When you think about the fact that Bob Dole was elected to the House of Representatives the same year that John F. Kennedy was elected president, and that he went on, for example, in  to be one of the most important factors in the defeat of Bill Clinton's health insurance plan, and then run for president in 1996, you realize that, in a sense, the last four decades of the 20th century were Bob Dole territory," said Ross Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University.
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