News & Politics

Bob Dole: 'I Can't Vote for George Washington, So I'm Supporting Trump'

1996 Republican nominee Bob Dole supported Donald Trump in January and endorsed him in May, but something he said Friday morning has people scratching their heads.

In an NPR interview, Dole admitted that The Donald has done things to alienate large parts of the Republican Party, but said he’s sticking with Trump anyway. After all, he can’t vote for a true statesman like the founder of our country.

“I’ve been a Republican all my life, and I know that both candidates are flawed and Trump has done some things that would curl your hair, things that some Republicans say ‘I can’t vote for Trump,'” Dole admitted. Then he effectively threw up his hands, joking, “What am I going to do? I can’t vote for George Washington, so I’m supporting Donald Trump.”

While Dole later said he was “kidding” about Washington, his mentioning of America’s first president is instructive. There are very many key differences between Mr. Trump and General Washington: the first president had military service, church leadership, and a magnanimous ability to listen before he spoke. Trump is as near an opposite on each of these things as possible, and the comparison is telling.

That’s not saying Hillary Clinton is any better. Maybe she seems a bit more “presidential” — if that word truly means anything — but she did break federal law to hide email correspondence from the public, lie about the events in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, and flip-flop on substantive issues such as the Iraq War, trade deals, and social issues like gay marriage.

In terms of Dole’s support, Trump likely does seem the better choice, and after all, he’s been a Republican all his life. The 1996 nominee brings a sort of gravitas to Trump’s win, even though former Presidents George H.W. Bush and his son have decided not to back The Donald, along with 2012 nominee Mitt Romney. Senator John McCain, the party’s 2008 nominee, also backed Trump in May.

Two Dole 1996 staffers (Michael Glassner and Paul Manafort) currently serve in Trump’s campaign leadership.

Next Page: Who would Bob Dole tell Trump to tap as VP? Where does he see himself on The Donald’s team?

Dole has spoken to The Donald twice and said he hopes to do so again, to “congratulate him for toning down the rhetoric and talking about the issues and not about people.” He recalled telling Trump that he should tap former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who would be an “excellent choice for vice president, because he knows the Congress better than anyone, and he also knows policy.”

The former nominee also suggested The Donald should “stop naming people in a derisive way.” Dole said Trump is “on the right track,” but warned that “if he gets off again on the wrong, there are going to be a lot of disappointed people who just stay home and not vote.”

Dole laid out a future position for himself in the Trump apparatus. “I’m the only former candidate who’s going to be at the convention, I understand, and I’m going to try to be his senior advisor,” the former nominee said. Cheekily, he added, “I’ve learned a little over the years — it might be helpful.”