Remarks by US President Biden at the Congressional Tribute Ceremony for Senator Robert J. Dole

United States Capitol

Washington DC

10:28 a.m. EST

THE CHAIRMAN: Vice President Harris, President Pelosi, Majority Leader Schumer, Minority Leader McConnell, Members of Congress, VIPs, but most of all, Elizabeth and Robin – I know that’s not the case. is not easy. Thank you for allowing us to do this.

We find ourselves here at the very heart of American democracy, the Capitol of the United States of America, to welcome one last time a hero of this democracy: Robert Joseph Dole. It belongs here, in this place, in this temple of freedom – to freedom and to – temple of possibilities.

Bob Dole loved this Capitol. It was there that he served the nation, shaped by the characters around us: Washington and Jefferson, who put us on our path; Abraham Lincoln, another man who – from the Heartland of the country he come from; Bob’s hero, Dwight David Eisenhower; Martin Luther King, Jr., that Bob helped pass a law honoring the great civil rights leader with a federal holiday – Bob stood up and did that; Gerald Ford, who served here and with whom Bob sought the vice-presidency of the United States.

In one sentence: Bob belongs here. He too was a giant in our history – and that’s not hyperbole; it is real – of spirit and grace, of principle and perseverance, of courage and of conviction.

I have had the great honor of serving with Bob, as have many of you around this coffin. I served with him for 25 years.

He had a great mind. They once asked him why in the name of God had he voted to continue funding Amtrak. He said because if he didn’t, “Biden would stay the night and cause more trouble.” (Laughs.) I shuttled every day. (Laughs.) It’s a true story. It was the deciding vote.

Well, you know, Bob and I – like a lot of us here – disagreed on a few things but not on any of the fundamental things. We still found a way to work together.

We sincerely respected each other as colleagues and as fellow Americans. It was real; it was not wrong. And we became great friends.

And because Bob deserves the last word, I would like to read some of his last message he left in the country which I hope we will all listen to in the days, weeks and months to come.

And I quote Bob Dole:

“I can’t pretend that I haven’t been a staunch champion [of] my birthday, but [I’ve] always served my country better when I did [it] therefore above all as an American.

“When we prioritize principle over party and humanity over personal heritage” – when we do, we “achieve much more as a nation. By leading with shared faith in one another, we are becoming America at its best. He went on to say: “a ray of hope, a source of comfort in times of crisis, a shield against those who threaten freedom”.

“Our nation has certainly experienced times of division. But at the end of the day, we’ve always found ways to come together. We can find this unity.

And then the message said, end of message.

My fellow Americans, America has lost one of our greatest patriots. We can follow his wisdom, I hope, and his timeless truth. But the truth is this: As divided as we are, the only way forward for democracy is unity, consensus – the only way. May we follow his wisdom and timeless truth and come to a consensus on the basic fundamentals we all agree on.

God bless Bob Dole. God bless America. And may God protect our troops.

10:34 a.m. EST

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Kevin E. Boling