“We disagreed, but we were never disagreeable with one another,” said Mr. Biden, who came to the Senate in 1973, four years after Mr. Dole arrived, and served with him for 23 years. “I found Bob to be a man of principle, pragmatism and enormous integrity,” Mr. Biden said. “He came into the arena with certain guiding principles to begin with: devotion to country, to fair play, to decency, to dignity, to honor, to literally attempting to find the common good.”
But Mr. Dole was also a Republican to the core, and fiercely partisan at times. He was the only living former Republican presidential nominee who publicly supported Donald Trump in his general election campaign.
While Mr. Dole retired from the Senate after 27 years in 1996, the year he became his party’s presidential nominee, he has remained a presence across a broad cross-section of cultural spaces. This included his enthusiastic — and lucrative — willingness to serve as a pitchman for products such as Visa, Dunkin’ Donuts and, most notably, Viagra, the erectile dysfunction drug, which invited a fair share of squeamishness at the time.
“Any second thoughts I may have entertained,” Mr. Dole wrote in a 2012 Washington Post opinion piece, briefly addressing his Viagra association, “were put to rest by a couple of wives who approached me in airports to say, simply, ‘Thank you, Senator.’”
In his remarks, Mr. Biden recalled traveling to Normandy with Mr. Dole for the 50th anniversary of D-Day. He told the audience a story of Mr. Dole helping a “fallen comrade” as they took on gunfire.
“There’s something that connects that past and present,” Mr. Biden said. “Wartime and peace. Then and now. The courage, the grit, the goodness and the grace of a second lieutenant named Bob Dole who became Congressman Dole, Senator Dole; a statesman, husband, father, friend.”