February 4th, 2008
02:00 PM ET
7 years ago

In letter to Limbaugh, Bob Dole defends McCain

Dole is defending McCain's conservative credentials.
Dole is defending McCain's conservative credentials.

BOSTON (CNN) - Former Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole on Monday wrote conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh defending John McCain as a "mainstream conservative" who had supported the party on critical votes during Dole's time as the Senate Republican leader.

The letter, obtained by CNN from a Republican source close to Dole, includes a voting comparison that suggests McCain's voting record compares favorably to that of the longtime conservative icon Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina.

Dole in the letter said he remains neutral in the GOP contest and spoke kindly of all three remaining leading GOP candidates. But the letter comes at a time Limbaugh is trying to rally grassroots conservative support against McCain.

"Whoever wins the Republican nomination will need your enthusiastic support," Dole wrote in the letter. "Two terms for the Clintons are enough."

–CNN Chief National Correspondent John King

(full text of the letter follows after the jump)

Rush,

I have not seen you in a long time but I do hear you frequently and I know that you have serious reservations about Senator McCain.

Not that many care but I have not been involved in the Republican Primary contest because Elizabeth, a good conservative, is running for reelection in North Carolina where Romney, McCain and Huckabee each enjoy considerable support.

I was the Republican Leader from January 1985 until I left the Senate voluntarily in June 1996. I worked closely with Senator McCain when he came to the Senate in 1987 until I departed. I cannot recall a single instance when he did not support the Party on critical votes. (At my age, I cannot be entirely certain but here are a few key conservative examples:)

1. Consistent pro-life record
2. Strong advocate for strict constructionist judges (We were misled on the Souter nomination)
3. Supported voluntary school prayer
4. Supported Constitutional Amendment for a Balanced Budget (needed two-thirds and lost by one vote - 66-34)
5. Strong advocate for reducing spending and opposing pork barrel "ear marks" which has, I might add, angered some of his colleagues
6. Consistent on defending Second Amendment rights
7. Opposed "Hillary Care" which would have been devastating
8. Probably the Senate's strongest advocate for strong national defense
9. Of course he has cast many votes since I left. I totally disagreed with the McCain-Feingold legislation. On immigration, Senator McCain was not in the Senate when Congress passed President Reagan's immigration legislation which passed overwhelmingly. It granted amnesty to 2.7 million illegals. It was not much different than the 2007 McCain, Kennedy, Bush effort.

I disagree with his votes against the Bush tax cuts but I believe his pledge to make them permanent and I do not agree that Governor Romney ever suggested a timetable for troop withdrawals in Iraq.

McCain is a friend and I proudly wore his P.O.W. bracelet bearing his name while he was still a guest at the "Hanoi Hilton." I believe our major candidates are mainstream conservatives and that our nominee will address our concerns by keeping taxes low, reducing corporate taxes, protecting and assisting the vulnerable, strengthening our traditional values, and above all, keeping America strong militarily, whatever the cost.

Whoever wins the Republican nomination will need your enthusiastic support. Two terms for the Clintons are enough.

Gob Bless America,

BOB DOLE

P.S. Rush, I just came across a document from the Senate Library which shows Presidential Support scores. Let me give you ratings for "Mr. Conservative" Senator Helms through 2002 (Helms retired in January 2003) and Senator McCain through 2004.


Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (196 Responses)
  1. Dave

    He is still an arrogant hot-head who doesn't understand the economy, immigrations, taxes, or war for that matter. I do not want that guy anywhere near the nuke button

    February 4, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  2. afisher, Midlothian, VA

    I am very disappointed in Dole.

    February 4, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  3. Susan

    Bob Dole,

    You are forgetting Keating 5. I will never trust McCain with any financial dealings. If I am remembering correctly, you were there when Keating 5 occured. How quicly we forget.

    How many favors does McCain owe to others?

    February 4, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  4. GRACE, SUN CITY CENTER, FL

    WAS IT DOLE THAT SAID * 3 REMAINING * CANDIDATES...OR WAS THAT
    KING'S IDEA?? THERE ARE 4 VIABLE CANDIDATES REMAINING. THE
    VOTING ISN'T OVER YET. I HOPE ONE OF THE ***4***REMAINING GOP
    CANDIDATES IS NOT BEING SLIGHTED FOR PERSONAL REASONS.
    DID ANYONE EVER STOP TO THINK ABOUT HOW THESE CANDIDATES
    FEEL WHEN THIS HAPPENS? HOW WOULD YOU FEEL?? I WOULD
    FEEL HURT AND DISCOURAGED. WHY CAN'T YOU TREAT ALL OF
    THE CANDIDATES EQUALLY. THEY ARE ALL WORKING HARD....JUMPING
    THRU' ALL OF THE HOOPS NECESSARY TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT.
    ALL EARNED THEIR BALLOT ACCESS. I LOOK FORWARD TO THE DAY
    WHEN ALL THE TRAVELING .... CRISS CROSSING THE NATION TO
    CAMPAIGN WILL END AND THE MEDIA THAT WE HAVE WILL BE ENUF
    TO REACH THE AMERICAN PEOPLE..... EQUAL TIME TO EVERYONE
    ON THE BALLOT.

    February 4, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  5. Hillphil

    And I though McClain was good at telling stories.

    February 4, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  6. Tom, Boston MA

    pure partisan loyalty is all that there is left in this so-called democracy.
    Go Rush! Show the good ole boys what integrity means!

    February 4, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  7. Marti, San Diego CA

    Bob Dole? Isn't this the version of McCain that we put up in 1996? He should know better.

    February 4, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  8. andy

    Haha! That's hilarious. Republicans are just not going to gather around McCain like everyone predicts. He's going to be no different than Hillary or Obama. After Romney and Huckabee drop out, people will look at the only conservative left: Ron Paul.

    February 4, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  9. JJ

    Rush is always right.

    February 4, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  10. AJ, IL

    Wrong o' follower of Paul...the Republicans want to be able to rally the party base against Hillary, because they know McCain has a real chance of defeating Hillary in a general election. Obama is unchartered territory where the Republican attack machine could really hurt McCain in an Obama vs McCain match up because the general election would most likely be decided by Independents.

    Obama in 08!

    February 4, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  11. larry from Minnesota

    What a great letter from Senator Dole–very humble, full of real facts–quite a contrast from Rush's attacks on Senator McCain.

    February 4, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  12. Texas

    I listened to Rush Limbaugh today excoriating not only John McCain but anyone who would vote for him. He said he would not urge his listeners to vote for McCain even if he was the Republican nominee. He pushed Romney instead as the only candidate with "the stools...er, I mean three legs on the stool" of conservativism.

    He was so hysterical in this diatribe that he was referring to his preferred candidate as a stool, which as you know is also the term for a feces.

    Well, I believe that Rush speaks the truth:
    A. He does consider Romney a stool.
    B. He will not support McCain...until he is nominated...then he'll cajore and beg his listeners to vote McCain next november. Rush will see the light. And he'll find some way to rationalize it.

    You see, Rush is very much the typical Neo Con. He is so far right that even the far right is left of him and therefore, pinko. He is completely wild eyed and slobbering froth. He may very well give himself a heart attack and simultaneously give us some relief.

    Good night, Rush. Turn out the lights....the Party's over!

    February 4, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  13. Dan, California

    This makes perfect sense. McCain and Bob Dole of '96 are similar in almost every respect.

    Both are respected war heroes.
    Both were perceived as the most electable right around the Republican Primary.
    Then, come the election, both will get wiped out handily.

    I'm a Republican and I am urging this nation not to support an even older, less agreeable to his party, version of '96 Bob Dole.

    McCain is a senile old man and gets owned in every debate.

    Our ownly chance to beat the Democrats is to rally behind Mitt Romney. New California and Georgia polls show him leading.

    Let's give Mitt a big boost tomorrow, and know the highly irrelevant Huckabee out.

    February 4, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  14. 30%er

    I also listen to rush today. He sounded no different than any other day. Right !

    February 4, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  15. GEORGE

    LOOKS LIKE RUSH IS HAVING TROUBLE WITH HIS SO CALLED REPUBLICAN PARTY ITS FALLING APART MC AIN AND OBAMA ARE BOTH ALIKE. NOT AT ALL GOOD FOR OUR COUNTRY. RUSH SHOLD HAVE TO GO BACK ON IS PAIN PILLS..AND REFLECT BACK AT WHAT HE HAS DONE FOR THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. EX REPUBLICAN. GEORGE

    February 4, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  16. David....Nevada

    Lots of conservatives hate Johnny Mc for his party betrayals and like ABC..Anybody But McCain,, likewise will vote Hillary in the general..

    February 4, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  17. Scott from Texas

    No conservative would vote for McCain. If you are even considering voting for him you are not a conservative. I will take my chances with a lib and load up on ammo. The only way for a conservative to remain that way is to insure a McCain defeat in November. Maybe by 2012 we will get a viable consevative candidate, the country will be begging for one by then.

    February 4, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  18. apollo

    If McCain had won Maine, the media would have called it a devastating blow. Romney's win puts him within 6 delegates.

    Tomorrow will be exciting. Best wishes to all the candidates.

    February 4, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  19. Ken, Suitland MD

    These right-wing morons like Limbaugh, Coulter and their ilk, and their adoring audience, don't know what 'conservative' means. There's very little in their current policy approach that is truly conservative. Much more reactionary (==liberal) than anything else. You need only look at their current disaster-in-charge.

    The one component of their political approach that is 'conservative' is their strong need to depend on and defer to authority figures. These are the very people our fore-fathers fought against to build this country - these wing-nuts were called "Tories" back in the day, and they didn't want anything to do with the liberal notion of a country based on individual freedom, a declaration of independence, a new and interesting and changeable constitution. And guess what? They still don't .

    Yes, these are the dip-heads that are the first to wrap themselves in the flag and constitution today, but they are the very type of people who didn't want this country to come into being in the first place. You can get a notion of this from their demeaning efforts to change this country into "something" else. I'm not sure what that "something" is, but I'm sure I don't want to be a part of it. One need only look what the country has become under our imbecile-in-charge, as he is played by his neo-con puppet-masters.

    So congrats to McCain for earning the ire of these dip heads. And SHAME on Bob Dole for having any conversation at all with the likes of Rush. But it just goes to show how unprincipled the [R] leadership is. Not really surprising though, as the whole party stands for counter-revolution, to regress us back to the dogma of King George. It will be interesting to see McCain fawn for Rush's approval if he ends up winning the [R] nomination. Pathetic.

    As a side show, though, I love it when the [R]s eat their own!

    February 4, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  20. Steph

    GIVE IT UP, BOB!!! YOU TELL 'EM!!!

    A house divided can *not* stand. These "jerks" like Rush and Ann C. should know better than to try to persuade people against candidates.

    WE HAVE OUR OWN MINDS AND WE'LL VOTE FOR WHO WE WANT TO.

    If Rush and Ann want to campaign for the Dems. that's fine, but don't come back to our camp bragging about it. Pick a side and be faithful to it. Let's be adults here and reckon with the fact that we'll never like *everything* candidates and presidents do. Do you honestly think that the majority of Republicans would pick *you* as our representatives if we had a choice?

    Give it a rest.

    Huckabee '08

    February 4, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  21. Gene

    Some people wil probably have heart failure when Romney stuns everyone who despises him. So...we'll will have a 'party' to celebrate the 'Party's WIN! Rush, will have a good night's sleep when this happens. It will be "nightmares" for the Rush haters. Try not to think about it....nighty-night.

    GO MITT!!!!!!!!!!

    February 4, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  22. Gavin

    WASTE OF INK BOB

    AND WASTE OF TIME...

    RUSH IS A WASTE OF SPACE

    February 4, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  23. Kansas Democrat

    RUSH LIMBAUGH IS A DRUG ADDICT AND A FREAK WHO REPRESENTS A TINY PORTION OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!

    February 4, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  24. Mary

    Who cares who Limbaugh rails against or about whom Dole speaks kindly?

    A vote for any of the republican candidates is a vote for Bush clone, and the vast majority of the American electorate thinks two terms of Bush has been quite enough!

    February 4, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  25. luggar

    Bob Dole should have been president, why do we turn our backs on the most qualified ? Newt would also have done our Country proud, but alas we can`t seem to figure it out!!

    February 4, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
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