A good lady is about to leave Washington, D.C. after decades of public
service. I refer to Senator Elizabeth Hanford Dole (R-NC), who was
defeated in her bid for re-election in the 2008 election. Dole married
Senator Robert J. "Bob" Dole in 1975. President Gerald R. Ford named him
his running mate after dumping the unpopular Vice President, Nelson A.
Rockefeller. Dole was Majority Leader of the Senate from 1985 to 1987,
when Democrats regained control of the Senate and he became Minority
Leader. Dole remained the leader of the Senate Republicans until he
resigned his post to be the GOP Presidential nominee in 1996.
All this time Elizabeth Dole was at his side. But she became an
important figure in her own right. When Ronald W. Reagan was elected
President in 1980 Dole became Reagan's liaison to conservatives,
veterans and others. Soon Reagan named her Secretary of Transportation.
By all accounts she did an admirable job. In the Administration of
George H. W. Bush, Dole became Secretary of Labor. She and Bob Dole
became a power couple in D.C.
When Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) retired after 40 years in the Senate,
Elizabeth Dole ran for his seat. He campaigned for her. She suggested
she would vote like Helms and indeed she did. However, some North
Carolinians suggested that her constituent services left much to be
desired. And by all accounts she ran an inadequate re-election campaign.
I watched with sadness as she questioned automobile manufacturers in the
lame duck session of Congress. Soon she will have to pack up her office
and head home. Her husband is now all but retired. This once-powerful
couple is out of power. Dole is gracious about her loss. One would
hardly know she had been defeated. Yet she leaves Washington having
accomplished much in her service in the White House, the Transportation
and Labor Departments and the United States Senate. This is one fine
lady, the likes of whom we probably will not see in this town for many