LITTLE ROCK, ARK. Once leaders of opposing parties, Bob Dole and Bill Clinton will continue their unlikely partnership for nonpartisan government at the first official public event of the Clinton School for Public Service.
The Kansas Republican defeated by Clinton in the 1996 presidential election will be the inaugural speaker in a series of seminars sponsored by the new University of Arkansas school, according to an announcement Saturday.
Dole, former Senate majority leader, will present a lecture titled "Public Service in the New Century" when the seminar series gets under way on Sept. 18 at the Statehouse Convention Center, according to a news release from the Clinton School.
In May, Clinton gave the inaugural lecture in a series that bears Dole's name at the Dole Institute of Politics at Kansas University.
The Clinton School is to be quartered in an old train station being renovated next to the Clinton Presidential Library that is nearing completion on the east side of Little Rock's downtown. But former Sen. David Pryor, dean of the new school, said the building would not be ready in time for Dole's speech, although a reception will be held in the structure.
Pryor said Dole's speech would be a symbol of the nonpartisan spirit that the two former opponents hope to see returning to the nation's politics.
"This is a unique story of two political giants, each representing (different) points of view, who have come together in friendship and can speak to the need of the country coming together and healing some old wounds," Pryor said. "This is a wonderful step in that direction."
In a news release from the Clinton School, the former president said he was honored that Dole had agreed to return the gesture.
"I was always profoundly grateful for his years of service in war and, later on, even more years of service in peace," Clinton said. "It is my hope that those who come to this school seeking to build a career in public service are guided by his example."
Pryor said Dole's lecture would send "a message from our new school that this won't be an appendage of President Clinton's political policies nor an adjunct of the Democratic Party."
Clinton will not be able to attend Dole's lecture, Pryor said.
"We just couldn't work out" a date when both men could be at Little Rock," Pryor said.