Former GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole says he’s ‘sort of Trumped out’

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Bob Dole, the former Republican Senate leader and presidential candidate, says he has mixed feelings about the party he once led.

“I’m a Trumper,” Mr Dole told USA Today. “I’m sort of Trumped out, though.”

Mr Dole, who turns 98 on Thursday, pondered the future of his party and country in a wide-ranging interview with the newspaper, covering everything from the filibuster to the Keystone Pipeline to the 2020 election – an area on which he differs with Donald Trump.

“He lost the election, and I regret that he did, but they did,” Mr 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.”

After losing his reelection bid, Mr Trump spent months baselessly charging that the contest had been rigged. In dozens of lawsuits, his legal team – led by Mr Giuliani – failed to prove any significant voter fraud.

Mr Dole, who himself ran for president and lost in 1996, distanced himself from that quixotic effort, but insisted he still supports Mr Trump over all. He was one of the few establishment Republicans to endorse Mr Trump in 2016, and attended the convention where he was nominated.

Nevertheless, the former senator worries the country is on the wrong track.

“I don’t like to second-guess, but I do believe we’ve lost something,” Mr Dole 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.”

Now almost a century old, Mr Dole is also battling stage 4 lung cancer. When USA Today spoke to him, he was in a hospital chair breathing medical oxygen.

Mr Dole announced his diagnosis back in February.

“While I certainly have some hurdles ahead, I also know that I join millions of Americans who face significant health challenges of their own,” he said in a statement at the time.

Soon after that announcement, President Joe Biden paid Mr Dole a lengthy visit. Though they belong to different parties, Mr Dole had only nice things about the president, calling him “a great, kind, upstanding, decent person”.

Mr Dole said he planned to celebrate his birthday with his wife, former senator Elizabeth Dole, and about a dozen friends. When he blows out his birthday candles, he told USA Today, he plans to wish for “pretty good health”.

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