Former presidential candidate and Kansas Sen. Bob Dole encouraged a packed room of aspiring GW politicos to become active in public service under the gaze of C-SPAN cameras Monday.
We can learn a lot from each other, Dole said.
CR Chairman Brad Murphy arranged the event, which was held to kick off to the spring semester.
Dole’s speech focused on the role of youth in politics, and he dispensed some of the wisdom he has acquired from his many years of involvement. The former senator shared stories of his many years on Capitol Hill and his life since his departure from the Senate in June of 1996.
Highlights of Dole’s speech included a robust crowd reaction from his small crack at GW’s high tuition. Dole, who was a speaker at GW’s 1998 Commencement, reflected on his speech.
The students were concerned with sacrifice, he said. Dole said sacrifice is an important issue for him because of his service and injury in World War II.
I applaud all of you here at GW, Dole said.
Dole advised the students that the best way to get started in politics and government is to get involved in a campaign, not just for president, but any campaign. Dole also advocated interning on Capitol Hill, a common practice for GW students.
It makes you proud to be a Republican, and proud to be here on campus graduate student Michael Baxter said. A lot of people have become disenfranchised with politics, and this makes you feel re-energized.
Dole has been working to raise $100 million for a World War II memorial in the District. He said he already has raised $80 million and plans to build the memorial within a few years.
(The memorial) will be a symbol of peace, strength, freedom and liberty, Dole said. When he spoke of heroes, the former senator named WWII general and President Dwight D. Eisenhower as his personal hero.
A hero is someone who risks (his) life to save another human being, Dole said.
With all his political wisdom, Dole said if he could go back, he would focus more on his friendships.
You never forget your friends, he said.
Dole was not willing to predict his life too far into the future.
I’m looking forward to getting up in the morning, the senator replied, as laughter from the crowd arose. In the end, he offered a bit of insight.
The idea is not to retire, right Steve? Dole asked GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg.
The former presidential candidate also spoke about the role of women in politics. Dole said he was fully supportive of his wife’s presidential bid and her possible vice-presidential nomination. He said he was not humbled at all by his wife’s success.
Dole gave a rousing and entertaining speech, some audience members from both sides of the political spectrum said.
People don’t give him the credit he deserves, freshman Beth Pezik said. He was funny and informative about politics today.
Trachtenberg had kind words for Dole.
It’s a shame he’s not younger because we could run him for president again, and he’d win, Trachtenberg said.
Greg Granza, a graduate student compared Dole’s speech to a victory.
I feel good, he said. You only get this feeling in politics and sports.