- Category : 1936-births
- Type : MGP
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX The Alpha 1
American civil servant and politician whose success as a Washington insider has been matched by few men or women. Elizabeth Dole is the only woman who has served as a Cabinet Secretary for two federal departments (Transportation 1983-87, and Labor 1989-90) under two presidents (Reagan and Bush) and she worked in the White House as a consumer affairs adviser by the age of 33 -- a record Bob Dole jokes he can't match. An effective public speaker, she cloaks her ambition with warmth and charm. Spontaneity and frivolity are not part of her agenda; everything is scripted in single minded preparation for her goals. In the process, Dole, a Republican since 1978, has become one of the best-known women in government, an articulate, popular and respected figure with politicians of both parties.
Her law degree from Harvard took her to Washington in 1965 for her first job in the White House in an increasingly visible public career. She served as associate director of legislative affairs for President Johnson's consumer office, as executive director of President Nixon's Commission on Consumer interests, as a member of the Federal Trade Commission under Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter and as a special White House assistant and then Transportation Secretary for President Reagan in January 1983.
Elizabeth Dole is the daughter of John Van Hanford, a prosperous business owner of floral products, and the former Mary Ella Cathey. At the age of two, she gave herself the name of "Liddy" but does not care to be called by her nickname as an adult professional woman. She had a comfortable childhood, complete with a summer house and ballet lessons. Her goal-oriented parents emphasized self-improvement as a "measure of personal growth" and competition was encouraged as a healthy outlet. Her talents as a leader and organizer were apparent from childhood with her peers. She called her mother her best friend and adored her one brother, John, 13 years older than she and the same age as Robert Dole. She followed John’s footsteps by enrolling in Duke University in the fall of 1954, majoring in political science. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, chosen as an attractive May Queen, and elected student body president. After post-graduate work at Oxford, 1959, she attended Harvard where she earned a master's degree in education and then a law degree, one of 25 women in the entering class of more than 500.
Her first White House job was as a staff assistant in the Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare. For a brief stint, Elizabeth left the White House to practice law, representing indigent clients, and she returned to the Government in 1968 as legislative assistant to President Johnson's consumer affairs adviser, Betty Furness. In 1973, President Nixon named her to a seven-year-term on the Federal Trade Commission.
After Bob Dole lost his presidential candidacy bid in November 1980, Elizabeth played a prominent role in the transition to the Reagan White House. In the new administration, she was named special assistant for public liaison in charge of carrying the Administration's message to special interest groups including both business and labor. By June 1981 she had chalked up more than 300 speaking tours and meetings with her usual energy and initiative. In January 1983, Reagan named her Secretary of Transportation and a month later, the appointment was approved. Remaining in this post for four years, Elizabeth Dole can take credit for air bags, airline safety measures and the brake light on the rear windshield of cars. She helped push for the first minimum-wage increase in eight years. With discipline and clarity, she took to the political arena with relish from the start, and served for eight years as president of the American Red Cross.
Elizabeth Hanford first met Bob Dole, recently divorced, in March 1972 when she lobbied him to add a consumer plank to the 1972 Republican platform. Their second meeting was in the summer of 1972 when Nixon opened up his campaign headquarters near the White House. They met a third time at the Republican Convention at a party. After the convention, Bob Dole called Elizabeth three times before finally asking her to dinner at the Watergate restaurant. Cautious by nature, Bob was also aware of their age difference. The romance progressed nonetheless and they married on 12/06/1975, creating one of Washington's most famous "power couples." Their clout is in reference to their jobs and accomplishment, not their social agenda. Most nights after their 12-hour working days, they ended up heating frozen dinners at their two-bedroom apartment in the Watergate complex. They had no children though Bob has an adult daughter from his former marriage.
A lifelong Methodist, Dole had an awakening of sorts in 1982, not an epiphany but a questioning about the central focus that her career played in her life and a spiritual drawing toward balance. She began attending meetings once a week at Washington church where she could discuss her spiritual goals. She began to take religion much more seriously and the recognition of this inner need provided her with greater peace. During campaigns, she carried her own Bible to read every night.
When Bob Dole made a bid for the Presidential nomination in 1987, Elizabeth Dole was barraged with advice to leave own her position to campaign for him. She said it was the "most difficult decision of her life" that she faced in September 1987. On 10/01/1987, she resigned from the Cabinet and left immediately on a 12-state campaign swing through the South, making use of her native southern drawl. When Bob dropped out of the race in March 1988, Elizabeth shifted her support to Bush. When President Bush moved into office, he named her his Secretary of Labor on 12/24/1988. After just 22 months, in October 1990 she resigned to assume the position of President of the Red Cross and started the job in February 1991.
On 4/10/1995, Russell, KS, Bob made another serious presidential bid and on 10/30/1995 she took an unpaid leave of absence from the Red Cross to once more work on her husband's campaign. Bob was defeated by President Bill Clinton in the election of 11/01/1996. In January 1997, Elizabeth returned to the Red Cross.
She said goodbye to the Red Cross for good in January 1999 to campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. But this time, she wasn't campaigning for her husband: it was for herself. The need to raise $20 million in $1,000 increments was a major issue to consider. That need became the deciding factor when Elizabeth Dole dropped out of the race on 10/21/1999, deciding that she could not compete with the big bucks of George W. Bush and Steve Forbes.
"Unlimited Partners: Our American Story," is a joint autobiography of Bob and Elizabeth Dole with Richard Norton Smith, published in 1988.
On 9/12/2001, Dole stated in a letter of intent that she has joined the race for the Senate seat being vacated by NC's Jesse Helms.