LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Former President Bill Clinton is the latest recipient of a prize named after the man he defeated in the 1996 election.
Clinton was at the University of Kansas Monday to receive the Dole Leadership Prize, named in honor of the longtime Republican senator from Kansas. Dole was the 1996 GOP presidential nominee who lost when the Democrat Clinton was re-elected.
Clinton used his speech to call for politicians, and the country in general, to put politics aside. He recalled that even when he and Dole realized they'd be running against each other, they continued to work together.
"One of the things that I always liked about Bob Dole is that he could fight you like there's no tomorrow, but he never closed the door to actually doing something that might benefit a real person," Clinton said.
Today, Clinton said, polarization is present not just in politics, but in every aspect of American life.
"We have one remaining bigotry," Clinton said. "We don't want to be around anybody who disagrees with us."
The award is granted by the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the university. Dole Institute director Bill Lacy said in a statement that Clinton's presidency included "strong leadership and bipartisanship."
The institute noted that Clinton led the U.S. to the longest-ever economic expansion, creating more than 22 million jobs in the process. The U.S. reached its lowest inflation rate in 30 years under his presidency, and the number of people receiving welfare was reduced.
In a statement last month, Dole said he and Clinton have become friends who often stay in touch. Dole, 92, did not attend.
The Dole Leadership Prize is awarded each year to a person or group for inspiring public service leadership. Among the previous winners were Nelson Mandela, Lech Walesa, President George H.W. Bush and Wounded Warrior Project.