Biden visits Bob Dole following cancer diagnosis
Posted February 20, 2021 5:14 p.m. EST
Updated February 20, 2021 5:59 p.m. EST
CNN — President Joe Biden visited former Sen. Bob Dole Saturday afternoon, according to the White House, after the longtime Kansas senator announced earlier in the week that he had been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.
The two had served in the Senate together and Dole is a "close friend" of the President, the White House said.
Dole, the 1996 Republican presidential nominee, was one of the key Republicans to say plainly after the November election that Biden had won.
"The election is over and (Joe) Biden will be president on January 20. I know the president has not conceded and he may never concede, but he will not be in the White House on January 21," Dole told the Kansas City Star in mid-December.
He noted at the time that Biden is a friend and said the Democrat had been "a good chairman" of the Senate Judiciary Committee: "He did a good job. Proud to be a liberal—hopefully not too liberal—but he knows how the government works and the Congress works and all this will be a benefit to Joe."
As vice president, Biden made an emotional tribute to Dole, who was seriously wounded during World War II, in 2011 at a ceremony that honored Dole's tireless efforts to create the National World War II memorial. Biden noted that the two had traveled together to the beaches of Normandy in France on the anniversary of D-Day.
The then-vice president said he had long-admired Dole's "unparalleled devotion" to the nation's veterans.
"He always knew and taught me what many of us have come to know -- that we have many obligations in this country, but we only have one truly sacred obligation. And that is to prepare those who we send to war with all that they need, and take care of those who return from war and their families with all they deserve," Biden said at the 2011 ceremony.
Dole, 97, announced his cancer diagnosis on Thursday.
"Recently, I was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. My first treatment will begin Monday," he wrote on Twitter. "While I certainly have some hurdles ahead, I also know that I join millions of Americans who face significant health challenges of their own."
Dole has suffered a series of health ailments in previous years. In 1991, he received surgery for prostate cancer, received abdominal aortic aneurysm surgery in 2001, was hospitalized in 2005 after a fall in his home and was treated for a leg infection in 2009.
In addition to his unsuccessful bid for the White House in 1996, Dole also ran for president in 1980 and 1988 but was not nominated. He was President Gerald Ford's running mate in 1976 after Nelson Rockefeller declined to stay on as vice president.
He served for 27 years as a US senator from Kansas, including two stints as the Senate majority leader. He was also a congressman from 1961 to 1969.
In January 2018, Dole was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by Congress.
The visit with Dole was not on Biden's public schedule for Saturday.
This story has been updated with additional details.