After serving as a prisoner of war in Vietnam for five years, Bob Dole launched his political career in 1964 as a candidate for a Kansas state Senate seat. He won the election, although his positions on civil rights and his opposition to US involvement in the Vietnam War contributed to his loss in a gubernatorial contest. In 1973, he finally left his farm to run for the Senate, and defeated incumbent Democrat John Rhodes in the Republican primary before coming within a hair of winning the general election. In his four years in the Senate, Dole battled among himself, too, establishing the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations to look into money laundering, fraud, and high-level waste and mismanagement in the intelligence community. Dole continued to occupy the upper chamber for a total of eight years, becoming a leader in the then-radical issue of embryonic stem cell research. The platform of his 1996 presidential campaign was largely dependent on his promise to abolish the Department of Education, an idea he endorsed with logic that is strange to today’s world. Dole also proposed conservative-friendly changes to welfare, campaign finance reform, and corporate taxes. Even if Dole were still in Congress today, he would still be well worth the time spent looking at his records.
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