Biden on Bob Dole: 'among the greatest of the Greatest Generation'

President BidenJoe BidenBiden says he didn't 'overpromise' Finland PM pledges 'extremely tough' sanctions should Russia invade Ukraine Russia: Nothing less than NATO expansion ban is acceptable MORE honored the life and legacy of former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) on Sunday, calling him “among the greatest of the Greatest Generation.”

Dole died in his sleep early Sunday morning at the age of 98, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation announced in a statement on Twitter. The former senator disclosed in February that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and would be undergoing treatment.

Biden on Sunday said Dole, with whom he served in the Senate for more than 20 years, was a “friend” and “an American statesman like few in our history.”

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“A war hero and among the greatest of the Greatest Generation. And to me, he was also a friend whom I could look to for trusted guidance, or a humorous line at just the right moment to settle frayed nerves,” Biden added.

“I will miss my friend. But I am grateful for the times we shared, and for the friendship Jill and I and our family have built with Liddy and the entire Dole family,” he added. 

Biden also recalled when he visited Dole in February, after the Kansas Republican announced his cancer diagnosis. He said that meeting was one of the first conversations he had with individuals outside the White House since taking office.

The president on Sunday said he wanted to meet with Dole and his wife, Elizabeth Dole, at the time to “offer the same support, love, and encouragement that they showed me and Jill when our son Beau battled cancer, and that the Doles have shown us over the half century we’ve been friends.”

“Like all true friendships, regardless of how much time has passed, we picked up right where we left off, as though it were only yesterday that we were sharing a laugh in the Senate dining room or debating the great issues of the day, often against each other, on the Senate floor. I saw in his eyes the same light, bravery, and determination I’ve seen so many times before,” he added.

Biden also reflected on the time he spent with Dole in the Senate, writing that while they “often disagreed,” his colleague “never hesitated to work with me or other Democrats when it mattered most.” He pointed to Dole’s accomplishments on the American with Disabilities Act, the Social Security Commission, establishing a federal holiday in the name of Martin Luther King Jr., and his efforts with the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program.

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“This work, for Bob, was about more than passing laws. It was written on his heart,” Biden said.

“Bob was a man to be admired by Americans. He had an unerring sense of integrity and honor. May God bless him, and may our nation draw upon his legacy of decency, dignity, good humor, and patriotism for all time,” he added.

Former President George W. Bush also honored Dole following the news of his death, calling the former senator “a great patriot” who “represented the finest of American values,” pointing to his efforts in Congress and during his service in World War II.

Bush also mentioned the emotional moment when Dole rose from his wheelchair and stood, with help from another individual, to salute former President George H.W. Bush, a fellow World War II veteran, as he was lying in state following his death.

"I will always remember Bob’s salute to my late dad at the Capitol, and now we Bushes salute Bob and give thanks for his life of principled service," George W. Bush said in a statement.

George H.W. Bush was Dole's friend and at times rival, as they ran against each other in the 1988 presidential primary.

Dole's salute occurred exactly three years ago on Saturday.

“Laura and I send our heartfelt condolences to Elizabeth and join our fellow citizens in prayer for her comfort,” George W. Bush added in his statement.

Dole represented Kansas in the Senate for almost 30 years. He was also a three-time presidential candidate, clinching the Republican nomination in 1996 but ultimately losing to former President Clinton.

The Kansas Republican also served in the House for eight years and was a celebrated World War II veteran, having served in Europe before being seriously injured.

Clinton, in a statement on Sunday, said Dole "dedicated his entire life to serving the American people, from his heroism in World War II to the 35 years he spent in Congress."

"After all he gave in the war, he didn’t have to give more. But he did," he added. "His example should inspire people today and for generations to come."

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Former President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaDemocrats make final plea for voting rights ahead of filibuster showdown Biden nominates Jane Hartley as ambassador to UK To boost economy and midterm outlook, Democrats must pass clean energy bill MORE paid tribute to Dole on Sunday, writing that the Kansas Republican “was a war hero, a political leader, and a statesman—with a career and demeanor harkening back to a day when members of the Greatest Generation abided by a certain code, putting country over party.”

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger welcomes baby boy Tennessee lawmaker presents self-defense bill in 'honor' of Kyle Rittenhouse Five things to know about the New York AG's pursuit of Trump MORE also recognized Dole’s passing on Sunday, writing in a statement that the late lawmaker “was an American war hero and true patriot for our Nation.”

“He served the Great State of Kansas with honor and the Republican Party was made stronger by his service,” he added.

Updated at 3:20 p.m.