Dec 9, 2021
Bob Dole Memorial Service: Mitch McConnell Speech Transcript
Senator Mitch McConnell gave a memorial speech at the Capitol Rotunda as former Senator Bob Dole lies in state on December 9, 2021. Read the transcript here.
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Speaker 1: (00:01)
Ladies and gentlemen, the honorable Mitch McConnell, Republican leader of the United States Senate.
Mitch McConnell: (00:28)
On April 14th, 1969, Senator Bob Dole delivered his first floor speech. He said, “The task ahead is monumental.” And this was before Bob knew he’d end up leading a conference of 53 senators. Years later, after he had become leader, Bob described his Senate management challenges with his trademark wit. “If I’d known,” he said, “We were going to win control of the Senate, we’d have run better candidates.”
Mitch McConnell: (01:13)
I swear Bob could have made it as a standup comic, but in that maintenance speech, Bob was earnest. He was already championing a signature cause helping Americans with disabilities. “The task ahead is monumental,” he said, “But I’m confident that there are forces in America ready and willing to meet the challenge.” Bob Dole himself was certainly proof of that. That maintenance speech came 24 years to the day after he sustained his combat wounds in Italy. Bob had already risen to a monumental task. He’d taken the fight to the Nazis and he’d nearly paid for it with his life. Through all his decades in public service, Bob Dole knew exactly where he came from, a son of dust bowl hardship who was laser focused on food security and rural issues, a wounded warrior who spent decades carrying fellow veterans and Americans with disabilities on his shoulders. Bob was the last of the greatest generation to run for president, but he was never stuck in the past.
Mitch McConnell: (02:50)
His roots ran deep, but he was always looking to new horizons. From that first speech, through his years in leadership, through Bob’s incredibly active retirement in name only, he built brighter futures for millions. Bob was blessed with long life to watch this legacy take effect, but that was no accident. Bob liked to joke that he planned for longevity by closely studying our most senior colleagues. He had a whole comedy routine about how he had tried to copy Strom Thurmond’s eating habits. If Strom takes a shrimp, I take a shrimp. If he eats a banana, I eat a banana. But the real engine behind Bob’s 98 remarkable years was his love, his love for Elizabeth and for Robin, for public service, for Kansas, and for America. Today, we honor the amazing life that love created. And we thank God, the source of all love, both for Bob’s incredible journey here in this life, and for the fact that he has entered his eternal reward in the next.