The Oratory of Robert Dole

  • Jerry L. Miller
Part of the Rhetoric, Politics and Society book series (RPS)


This chapter examines Bob Dole’s reliance on personal faith, the ‘American Dream’, and belief that the best days of America are ahead. In 1996, he reflected that ‘my life is proof that America is a land without limits. And with my feet on the ground and my heart filled with hope, I put my faith in you and in the God who loves us all. For I am convinced that America’s best days are yet to come’. This was Dole’s nomination acceptance speech delivered on 15 August 1996, at the San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, California. Republican Presidential nominee Bob Dole and his running mate, Jack Kemp, would eventually lose the campaign to President Bill Clinton, with Clinton and Dole earning 379 and 159 Electoral College votes, respectively.

While Senator Dole’s faith never wavered, this campaign would mark the end of his 35 ½-year career in American politics, a career that earns him the record as the nation’s longest-serving Republican leader. Dole had resigned his senate seat to run for the Republican nomination and the US Presidency, and the position he was, by many accounts, best suited for, majority leader. Senator Dole’s oratorical prowess is one of pragmatism, drawn from a childhood in rural Kansas during the Great Depression and his service in the US Army in World War II which subjected him to grave injuries and rendered his right arm and hand paralysed.

Although Senator Dole’s dream to become President of the United States never came to fruition, his leadership and legacy as a US politician deem his oratorical skills in diplomacy and campaigning worthy of attention.


  1. Alston & Bird LLP. 2016. Senator Bob Dole, May 25. Available from
  2. Barone, M., and G. Ujifusa. 1992. The Almanac of American Politics 1992: The Senators, the Representatives, and the Governors: Their Records and Election Results, their States and Districts. Washington, DC: National Journal.Google Scholar
  3. Benoit, W.L. 2001. Framing Through Temporal Metaphor: The “Bridges” of Bob Dole and Bill Clinton in the 1996 Acceptance Addresses. Communication Studies 52 (1): 70–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Burke, K. 1950. A Rhetoric of Motives. New York: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  5. Burkett, J.W. 2011. Aristotle, ‘Rhetoric III’: A Commentary. Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database (AAT 3445000).Google Scholar
  6. CSPAN. 2016. Former U.S. Senators Dole & Kassebaum on Congress. In Giants of the Senate, September 17. Available from
  7. Diamond, E., and J. D’Amato. 1996. Block that Stereotype! What’s Age Got to Do with It? Columbia Journalism Review 35: 43–44.Google Scholar
  8. Dole, R.J. 1951. How I Overcame My Injuries. Available from
  9. ———. 1969. Disabilities, April 14. Available from
  10. ———. 1984. Speech to Congress, 130 Cong. Rec. 12 April, 9094.Google Scholar
  11. ———. 1986. Forward. In I. Morris and American Foundation for the Blind, President’s Committee on Employment of Handicapped. Symposium: The Future of Work for Disabled People: Employment and the New Technology. New York: American Foundation for the Blind.Google Scholar
  12. ———. 1993. Speech to Congress, 139 Cong. Rec. 28 October, 26641.Google Scholar
  13. ———. 1995a. Candidacy Announcement Speech, April 10. Available from
  14. ———. 1995b. Remarks in Los Angeles, May 31. Available from
  15. ———. 1996a. Remarks Accepting the GOP Nomination for President, August 15. Available from
  16. ———. 1996b. Remarks During the Second Presidential Debate, October 16. Available from
  17. ———. 1996c. Remarks During the First Presidential Debate, October 6. Available from
  18. ———. 1996d. Presidential Election Concession Speech, November 5. Available from
  19. Dole, R.J., and M. Kalb. 1997. Honest Skepticism Versus Bitter Cynicism. Press/Politics 2 (4): 4–9.Google Scholar
  20. Dole, R.J., E.H. Dole, R.N. Smith, and K. Tymchuk. 1996. Unlimited Partners: Our American Story. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  21. Downen, R. 2007. Robert Downen on 1976 Campaign, December 27. Available from
  22. Fisher, W.R. 1984. Narration as a Human Communication Paradigm: The Case of Public Moral Argument. Communication Monographs 51: 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Garver, E. 1998. The Ethical Criticism of Reasoning. Philosophy & Rhetoric 31 (2): 107–130.Google Scholar
  24. Giobbe, D. 1996. Falling for Dole. Editor & Publisher 129 (41): 24.Google Scholar
  25. Grimaldi, W.M.A. 1957. A Note on the Pisteis in Aristotle’s Rhetoric. The American Journal of Philosophy 78 (2): 188–192.Google Scholar
  26. Gruner, C.R. 1997. A Rejoinder to Levasseur and Dean on ‘the Dole Humor Myth’. Southern Communication Journal 62 (2): 153–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Halmari, H. 2008. On the language of the Clinton-Dole Presidential Campaign Debates: General Tendencies and Successful Strategies. Journal of Language and Politics 7 (2): 247–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jasinski, J. 2001. Sourcebook on Rhetoric: Key Concepts in Contemporary Rhetorical Studies. Thousand Oaks: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Koch, N. 2008. Noel Koch Oral History Interview. National Cable Satellite Corporation, March 1. Available from
  30. Levasseur, D., and K.W. Dean. 1997. Accounting for Dole’s Humor in the 1976 Vice Presidential Debate: A Response to Gruner’s Rejoinder. Southern Communication Journal 62 (3): 243–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. McKerrow, R.E. 1998. Corporeal and Cultural Rhetoric: A Site for Rhetoric’s Future. Southern Communication Journal 63 (4): 315–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mondale, W. 1976. Remarks at the First Vice-Presidential Debate, October 15. Available from
  33. ———. 2007. Walter Mondale on 1976 Campaign, November 28. Available from
  34. Nagourney, A., and E. Kolbert. 1996. After the Election: Anatomy of a Loss – A Special Report how Bob Dole’s Dream Was Dashed. The New York Times, November 8. Available from
  35. Orlando Sentinel. 1996. Dole Falls Off Stage at Rally, Bounces Back. Orlando Sentinel, September 16. Available from:
  36. Parmelle, J. 2000. Examining Presidential Campaign Films at the Primary and General Election Level: Clinton in 1992 and Dole in 1996. The Florida Communication Journal XXVII (1 and 2): 80–92.Google Scholar
  37. Seelye, K.Q. 1996. War Wounds Shape Life, and Politics, for Dole. The New York Times, April 14. Available from
  38. Stefanoni, A.B. 2014. Dole Stops in Pittsburg on Final Tour of Kansas. The Joplin Globe, October 29. Available from
  39. Taussig, D. 2015. Living Proof: Autobiographical Political Argument in We Are the 99 Percent and We are the 53 Percent. International Journal of Communication 9: 1256–1274.Google Scholar
  40. White, M.E. 1997–98. Tobacco Road Revisited: On the Campaign Trail with Butt Man in 1996. Public Relations Quarterly 42: 11–14.Google Scholar
  41. Woodward, B. 1996. The Choice: How Bill Clinton Won. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  42. Yoo, G.E. 1979. A Revision of the Concept of Ethical Appeal. Philosophy and Rhetoric 12: 41–58.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jerry L. Miller
    • 1
  1. 1.Ohio UniversityAthensUSA

Personalised recommendations