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CNN Live Event/Special

The Funeral of Senator Bob Dole; Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle Delivers Tribute; Bob Dole's Daughter Robin Dole Delivers Tribute. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired December 10, 2021 - 12:00   ET



TOM DASCHLE, FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Mr. President, and Vice President, distinguished guests, Elizabeth, Robin I'm honored. I've always thought life has no blessing like that. I have a good friend. And to know Bob has to know the truth of that state.

Bob's friendship was a blessing that enriched my life beyond measure. His dedication to public service his determination to keep Washington in Congress places of civility and his kindness to Linda and me made our friendship a blessing as rich as life offers.

When I arrived in the Senate in 1987, Bob was literally one of the very first people to reach out. We served on the finance and agriculture committees together. And almost from the beginning, we seem to have similar views on agriculture, nutrition, and many other issues.

Bob faced the world, both its cruelties and just kindness with humility, with humanity and of course, with humor. I remember my very first appearance with Bob after we were both elected leaders in 1994 it was at a reception where he noted that my election was received with great enthusiasm in farm country.

Because for the first time you had two Senate leaders from farm states said every farmer in America that very week, ordered a new tractor. And Bob set the bar for me and I suspect many others. When he shared that story about when he first came to Congress a reporter asked what his agenda was going to be.

He said I'm going to sit and watch - just a couple of days. And then I'm going to stand up and do what's right. And that's exactly what he did. As the president noted, he stood up for minorities early in his career. When he broke party ranks, and voted for the landmark civil rights and voting rights act.

He stood up for the elderly when he worked with Pat Moynihan, literally to save Social Security. He stood up for the young when he worked with my fellow South Dakota and George McGovern on nutrition assistance.


DASCHLE: And he up for the disabled. When he worked with Ted Kennedy and Tom Harkin, on the Americans with Disabilities Act and boy, did he stand up for his fellow veterans as Pat just noted. As the Chairman of the World War II Memorial Campaign I know for many conversations, how important that accomplishment was even remarked to me once thought about being buried there.

While that may not be his final resting place, I think Bob, every single time I visit. Of course, these are all the things that made Bob Dole great. But as Bill Rogers once, put it in one of Bob's favorite sayings, it's great to be great. But it's far greater to be human.

Almost everyone has heard the Bob Dole stories of amazing heroics and his recovery recovering from injury and World War II. A few know the Bob Dole, a call to Florida dentist in 1993 to encourage him after losing his right arm and helped him find a specialist to get a prosthetic arm.

And few people know the story about Bob Dole. And the detour he took in his presidential campaign in 1996. He was in Indianapolis. He left the campaign for a few hours to attend a graduation party for a young girl who become paralyzed because of a car accident.

Or, as Pat already noted, the Bob Dole who waited at those airport gates for honor flights to greet veterans with a salute. And I thank you. He touched many people through his small acts of kindness including me.

He taught me a lot when I became Senate Leader. But the teaching didn't end when I left the site. When I lost my election in 2004 once again, Bob was one of the very first to offer me his guidance and his support. He helped me find a speaker's bureau he encouraged me to join him at his law firm.

As a decision I never regretted in part because it gave me the opportunity to spend a lot more time. I can't help but think of the first time I said farewell to Bob when he left the Senate in 1996. I remember he quoted a poem by Carl Sandburg in his final speech on the Senate floor.

I tell you, the past two bucket of ashes I tell you yesterday is a wind going down. A sun dropped in the West. I tell you there is nothing in the world only an ocean of tomorrows a sky of tomorrows. Bob didn't always have an easy life. He faced some hard yesterday's physical, political, personal losses.


DASCHLE: A drawl he did lose he never lost himself. He never lost his sense of humor he never lost his sense of integrity he never lost his love for his hometown Russell Kansas or his deep, deep love for Elizabeth and Robin. And he never lost his hope for tomorrow. His life was a testament to Will Rogers Truth the things that make us human. The laughs we share the burdens we bear can make us great?


ROBIN DOLE, DAUGHTER OF BOB DOLE: I stand here with a heavy heart and also as a grateful and proud daughter. I have had an incredible 67 years with my dad. Not many people get that time and I'm so thankful. I won't be brief today to help him make it through this, and to make dad smile.

Because a lot of us in this room know how much he appreciated brevity. I want to start by thanking all of you for being with us today. I think I can speak for Elizabeth when I say the outpouring of love, and respect is so heartwarming.

We are truly lifted by your presence. And thank you, Mr. President, for your warm remarks. I'll always treasure your recent visit to dad and Elizabeth and I at the Watergate. It was wonderful. And I love listening to you share all your stories about the time you serve together. And I want to say thank you to his extended family.

And now mine, former colleagues, former staff, current staff, members of his household Elizabeth staff, who I've gotten to know really well this last couple days, the brunch crew, all of his visitors and friends and family who called him regularly. He so enjoyed his time with all of you.

And I want to say thank you to his medical team. And believe me, it was quite a team, his team on the east coast and the west coast for your dedication and forgiving us so many wonderful years with dad, especially this last year. We can't thank you enough.

Finally, I want to thank his caregivers. I will be eternally grateful to you for providing extraordinary care and compassionate care to my dad and for always answering my many calls and texts with grace. There were a lot.

The last years have been such a gift to me. I'm feel so fortunate. I was able to spend hundreds of hours with my dad and talk to him almost every single night on the phone. We talked about everything under the sun. He told me things I never knew. He asked about my life, about my friends lives.

We made lots of calls to family, to former colleagues in the Senate and in the House to former staff. He shared feelings he had had not shared before with many of these people. It was a wonderful experience for me to listen to these conversations and such a gift to them and to dad.

My dad is the most generous person I have ever known. He was the giver, not a taker. He cared more about others than he did about himself. He told me he said a personal goal to help at least one person every day of his life then he said I'm not sure I've been able to meet my goal.


R. DOLE: I said, dad, you've got to be kidding. Some days you help one person, and other days you help 40,000 people. I think you've met and exceeded your goal. Well, you may be right, he said. There is no one who helped. There is no one he helped more than me. He's always been there for me through thick and through thin. He always have my back even when I made mistakes. And believe me, I made quite a few. He believes in giving second chances and I know that firsthand. He was my rock.

My dad was an animal lover, and we share that love. You've heard a lot about his work and animal welfare, but I'd like to share a few personal stories about his love for animals. When I was a little girl, my cousins and I would visit his parents in Rustle every summer.

Grandma would often have animals for us to play with. One year when I got home, I cried and cried, because I didn't know what would happen to the little kitten that I played with and grew to love. Dad left on a trip to Kansas. And much to my surprise, he brought the kitten home with him on the plane for me.

We named the kitten Rusty because he started in Russell. Recently, I lost my dog --. Dad was the first one to call me. He consoled me and he said all the right things. The support that support meant the world to me. Soon he began to encourage me to get another dog.

Quite frequently, he encouraged me to get another dog. And I tell him, I'm just don't know if I'm ready, but he kept encouraging me and eventually, he got me a puppy. And I wanted to name my puppy after dad. But you know I didn't want to name him Bob.

So I decided to name him "JoJo", after his middle name, Joseph. And we visited many, many times. Dad always wanted me to bring JoJo with me, which wasn't always easy, but we did it. And dad always wanted me when I got there to hold "JoJo" up so he could get kisses from "JoJo".

I'd hold him up to his face. And dad always wanted Elizabeth to get kisses too. And "JoJo" did a very good job spreading his love. Dad and Elizabeth's dogs Blazer and Leader were always trotting into his room. They love to visit. But it was Blazer, who was the most concerned about them.

Blazer would lay at his feet whenever he suspected dad needed special nursing care. And I believe it really helped because he loved them so much. When I was preparing to speak today, I learned about a farewell letter dad wrote with a former staff member.

None of us knew that he had written this letter. He swore him to secrecy, and he kept a secret. The joke is you may move on to other jobs. Well, but once you're adult staffer, you're always adult staffer. And now a lot of people in this room know that.

I'd like to share in closing part of that letter, and I encourage you all to read it in its entirety. It has been released to the public as he wished. Here are his words. As I make the final walk on my life's journey, I do so without fear. Because I know that I will again, not be walking alone. I know that God will be walking with me.


R. DOLE: I also confess that I'm a bit curious to learn. If I am correct in thinking that Heaven will look a lot like Kansas and to see like others who have gone before me, if I will still be able to vote in Chicago.

I do have one request to make a view since I was dedicated, excuse me since it was dedicated in 2004 it has been my honor to go as often as I could to the World War II Memorial here in Washington, D.C. to welcome and thank the World War II veterans and all veterans who are visiting there.

Since I won't be making that visit anymore I hope that you will, and that you will ask your children and grandchildren to visit Veterans' Memorials across America, and to never forget the sacrifice made not just by my generation, but by all those who wear the uniform of our country.

My final words are the exact ones that Dwight Eisenhower used to conclude his speech and - nearly seven decades ago. I believe in the future of the United States of America. I will miss him so much. I think I will still talk to him every night. I love you dad. I promise you will never walk alone. Thank you!