Archive for Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Grateful Dole works crowd at conclusion of dedication ceremonies

July 23, 2003


Bob Dole looked like he was on the campaign trail, working the crowd, posing for photos, signing autographs and cracking jokes.

After Tuesday's dedication of the Dole Institute of Politics, most of the dignitaries toured the building or were taken away in waiting cars.

But not Dole. He met with a crowd of well-wishers for 45 minutes. At 80, he showed no signs of slowing down.

He complimented a woman on her suntan, and joked, "If you hadn't voted for me, we wouldn't have this building."

"I didn't know Manhattan people visited Lawrence," he told another woman, whom he recognized. He hugged another man, saying, "Here's my Farm Bureau friend. Get the prices up."

He pointed at another man, "You used to be ..."

It was classic Dole, jumping from one subject to another. Shaking hands, giving hugs, making eye contact, then a quickie television interview, then back into the crowd. One woman marveled at Dole's energy and, referring to a line in his speech, said, "I thought he said the campaigning was over."

Without a second thought, Dole started talking about how his first-grade teacher used to rap the students' knuckles with a ruler when they were unruly. "It kind of teaches you to behave," he said.

"I go to your place in Wichita all the time," one veteran told Dole, referring to the veterans hospital there. "You can get drugs there," Dole told him.

Another man told Dole he was from near Fort Riley and asked him to autograph the dedication program. Dole said, "We got to keep Fort Riley there. We can't give up any divisions."

One man told Dole that Dole would live longer than former U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, who died at 100. Dole laughed, recalling that when he was in the Senate, "Whenever I felt old, I'd see him running by the office."

And many of the admirers left Dole, repeating what he said veterans liked to hear, "Thank you for your service."

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