Elizabeth Dole

Elizabeth Dole
United States Senator
from North Carolina
In office
January 3, 2003  January 3, 2009
Preceded by Jesse Helms
Succeeded by Kay Hagan
20th United States Secretary of Labor
In office
January 25, 1989  November 23, 1990
President George H. W. Bush
Preceded by Ann McLaughlin Korologos
Succeeded by Lynn Morley Martin
8th United States Secretary of Transportation
In office
February 7, 1983  September 30, 1987
President Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Andrew L. Lewis Jr.
Succeeded by James H. Burnley IV
Director of the Office of Public Liaison
In office
January 20, 1981  February 7, 1983
President Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Anne Wexler
Succeeded by Faith Whittlesey
Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission
In office
December 4, 1973  March 9, 1979
Appointed by Richard Nixon
Preceded by Patricia P. Bailey
Succeeded by Mary Gardiner Jones
Personal details
Born Mary Elizabeth Alexander Hanford
(1936-07-29) July 29, 1936
Salisbury, North Carolina, U.S.
Political party Democratic (Before 1975)
Republican (1975–present)
Spouse(s) Bob Dole (m. 1975)
Children Robin (stepdaughter)
Alma mater Duke University
Harvard University
Religion Presbyterianism
(Formerly Methodism)

Mary Elizabeth Alexander Hanford "Liddy" Dole (born July 29, 1936)[1] is an American politician who served in both the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush presidential administrations, as well as in the United States Senate.

A graduate of Duke University and Harvard Law School, Dole served as Secretary of Transportation under Ronald Reagan and Secretary of Labor under George H. W. Bush before becoming head of the American Red Cross. She next served as North Carolina's first female U.S. senator (2003–09).[2] She is a member of the Republican Party and former chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. She is married to former U.S. Senate majority leader, 1976 Republican vice-presidential nominee and 1996 Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole.

Early life and family

Dole was born Mary Elizabeth Alexander Hanford in Salisbury, North Carolina, to Mary Ella (née Cathey; 1901–2004) and John Van Hanford (1893–1978).[1][3]

Dole first met her future husband, Bob Dole, in the spring of 1972 at a meeting arranged by her boss and mentor, Virginia Knauer.[4] The couple dated, and she became his second wife on December 6, 1975, in the Washington National Cathedral.[5] They have no children, though she is stepmother to Bob's adult daughter Robin from his first marriage of 24 years, which ended in divorce in 1972.

She attended individually, and later with her husband, the Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C., before joining the National Presbyterian Church in 1996.[5] Articles at the time reported that the Doles stopped attending Foundry in 1995, finding the pastor at the time, J. Philip Wogaman, too liberal.[6]


Dole attended Duke University and graduated with distinction in political science, on June 2, 1958. She was a finalist for an Angier B. Duke scholarship, a full-tuition award given to outstanding applicants who matriculate at Duke.[7] She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and was a recipient of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan award, a national prize given to those exemplifying the ideal of service to others.

Among her activities at Duke were the chapel choir, Chanticleer (yearbook) business staff, freshman advisory council, The Order of the White Duchy, a local honorary society for outstanding women student leaders, female counterpart of the The Order of The Red Friars, Phi Kappa Delta, a local leadership honorary for senior women, and Pi Sigma Alpha, a national political science honorary society. Dole is a sister of Delta Delta Delta.[8] She was also elected president of the woman's student government association, 1958 May queen, and "leader of the year" by the student newspaper, The Chronicle.

Dole has remained involved with Duke University, serving at various points in time as president of the Duke University alumnae association, and a member of the board of trustees and board of visitors.[9] She has also spoken at Duke several times, including:

Following her graduation from Duke, she did her post-graduate work at Oxford in 1959. After Oxford, she took a job as a student teacher at Melrose High School in Melrose, Massachusetts, for the 1959–1960 school year.[11] While teaching, she also pursued her master's degree in education from Harvard University, which she earned in 1960, followed by a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1965. At graduation, she was one of 24 women in a class of 550 students.[12] She is an alumna of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society.

White House years

Johnson Administration

Elizabeth Dole with friend and mentor Virginia Knauer. Mrs. Knauer ran the White House Office of Consumer Affairs in the Nixon Administration, where Dole served as a deputy assistant to the President.

Dole, who had campaigned for the KennedyJohnson presidential ticket in 1960, worked in the White House in the later years of the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson.

Nixon and Ford Administrations

When many Democrats left the White House following Richard Nixon's replacement of Johnson, Dole did not. From 1969 to 1973, she served as deputy assistant to President Nixon for consumer affairs. In 1973, Nixon appointed her to a seven-year term on the Federal Trade Commission. In 1975, she became a Republican. She took a leave from her post as a Federal Trade Commissioner for several months in 1976 to campaign for her husband for vice president of the United States, when he ran on the Republican ticket with Gerald Ford. She later resigned from the FTC in 1979, to campaign for her husband's 1980 presidential run. During the 1970s, Dole was a self-described member of the Women's Liberation Movement and helped reform laws to ensure equal credit for women. She was also a supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Reagan Administration and Secretary of Transportation

She served as director of the White House Office of Public Liaison, from 1981 to 1983 and as United States Secretary of Transportation from 1983 to 1987 under Ronald Reagan. She was also appointed by Reagan to chair task forces that sought to reform federal and state laws to ensure equal rights for women. She was the first woman appointed Secretary of Transportation. In this role, she was the first woman to have served as the head of a branch of the United States Military, as the United States Coast Guard was under the Department of Transportation at the time. Dole's appointment was "particularly irritating" to conservative activists, since "though at least nominally opposed to abortion, [she was] viewed by the right as [an] aggressive feminist."[13]

The official Department of Labor portrait of Elizabeth Dole
First Lady Nancy Reagan greets Dole and other Senate wives in the Blue Room. 1988

During her tenure, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, mandated the installation of a center high-mounted stop lamp on new cars; these are sometimes called "Liddy Lights" in her recognition.[14] She worked with MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) to pass laws withholding federal highway funding from any state that had a drinking age below twenty-one. The state government of South Dakota opposed the drinking age law and sued Dole in the case South Dakota v. Dole, but the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Dole. She oversaw the privatization of the national freight railroad, CONRAIL. She initiated random drug testing within the Department of Transportation.

Bush Administration and Secretary of Labor

Dole served as United States Secretary of Labor from 1989 to 1990 under George H. W. Bush; she is the first woman to serve in two different Cabinet positions in the administrations of two Presidents. Her tenure as both U.S. Transportation Secretary and U.S. Labor Secretary focused heavily on improving public safety and workplace safety and health. In 1990, Dole tapped former Ronald Reagan Administration official and long-time public safety and health advocate, Roy Clason Jr. as Director of Policy of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to help her spearhead a number of OSHA reforms to better protect America's 91 million workers from workplace injuries and illnesses.

American Red Cross presidency

In 1991, Dole became the president of the American Red Cross. She served until 1999.

1996 Republican National Convention

Dole's husband Bob Dole was the Republican nominee in the US presidential election of 1996. Elizabeth Dole, who would have become First Lady had her husband won the election, received recognition for her speech at the 1996 Republican National Convention, during which she walked out into the audience while talking conversationally about her husband's qualities.

2000 United States Presidential candidacy

Elizabeth Dole ran for the Republican nomination in the US presidential election of 2000, but pulled out of the race in October 1999 before any of the primaries, largely due to inadequate fundraising even though a Gallup poll had her in second place in the presidential race at 11% behind George W. Bush at 60% as late as October 1999.[15] Dole placed third—behind George W. Bush and Steve Forbes—in a large field in the Iowa Straw Poll (the first, non-binding, test of electability for the Republican Party nomination). The Iowa Straw Poll differed from the national polls where she was second only to Bush; Senator John McCain was in third place.

In July 2000, shortly before the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, Bush campaign sources said Elizabeth Dole was on the short list to be named the vice-presidential nominee, along with Michigan Governor John Engler, New York Governor George Pataki, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, and former Missouri Senator John Danforth.[16] Many pundits believed that Dole was the frontrunner for the Vice Presidential nomination. Bush then surprised most pundits by selecting former U.S. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, who was actually in charge of leading Bush's search for a vice presidential nominee.

United States Senate career


In late December 2001, Dole shifted her official residency from the Doles' condominium in the Watergate complex to her mother's home in Salisbury to seek election to the U.S. Senate.[17][18] The seat was made available by the retirement of Republican Jesse Helms. Although Dole had not lived regularly in North Carolina since 1959 and had been a resident of the Washington area for most of the time since the mid-1960s, the state and national Republican establishment quickly cleared the field for her. She handily won the Republican primary with 80 percent of the vote over a lesser-known candidate, Dr. Ada Fisher. In the November general election, she defeated her Democratic opponent Erskine Bowles, a former chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton, by an eight-point margin.

Her election to the Senate marked the first time a spouse of a former Senator was elected to the Senate from a different state from that of her spouse (although Kansas Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum married former Tennessee Senator Howard Baker, the marriage occurred after Kassebaum and Baker both had finished their service in the Senate). Dole was criticized by Democrats during her first Senate campaign over the fact that for over 40 years prior to her nomination, she had not lived in North Carolina.

In November 2004, following Republican gains in the United States Senate, Dole narrowly edged out Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota for the post of chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. She is the first woman to become chair of the NRSC. During her election cycle as chairperson, her Democratic Party counterpart, Senator Chuck Schumer raised significantly more money, and experienced more success in recruiting candidates. In the November election, Dole's party lost six U.S. Senate seats to the Democrats, thus losing control of the U.S. Senate. Dole was replaced as NRSC chair by Senator John Ensign of Nevada following the 2006 midterms.

2008 Senate re-election campaign

Dole was initially a heavy favorite for re-election, especially after several potential top-tier challengers such as Congressman Brad Miller, Governor Mike Easley and former Governor Jim Hunt all declined to compete against Dole.[19][20] Ultimately, Kay Hagan, a state senator from Greensboro, won the Democratic primary election against Jim Neal and became Dole's general election opponent. Reports late in the campaign suggested that Dole suffered from Barack Obama's decision to aggressively contest North Carolina in the presidential election,[21] while Hagan received substantial support from independent 527 groups lobbying/advertising against Dole,[20] as well as the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, which spent more money in North Carolina than in any other state during the 2008 election season.[20] Dole undertook an eight-day "ElizaBus" tour of the state in the days leading up to election day.[22]

Dole's television "Godless" ad

In late October, Dole released a controversial television ad attacking Hagan for reportedly taking donations from individuals involved in the Godless Americans PAC, a group which advocates for the rights of people who do not believe in God. The ad also included a female voice saying, "There is no God." Hagan's campaign said the ad sought to put inflammatory words in their candidate's mouth. Hagan, who is a member of the Presbyterian Church and a former Sunday school teacher,[23] condemned the ad as "fabricated and pathetic," and, according to Hagan's campaign website, a cease-and-desist letter was "hand-delivered to Dole's Raleigh office and to her home at the Watergate in Washington, DC."[24] Hagan also filed a lawsuit in Wake County Superior Court accusing Dole of defamation and libel.[25][26] The ad met significant criticism from some members of the public as well national media outlets. After the first ad Hagan received over 3,600 contributions, including major donors as well as individual support from a range of persons who believed in the right to participate in civil government free of religious orthodoxy requirements. Following the second ad Hagan's lead doubled according to some polls.[27]

In the 2008 election, Dole lost by a wider-than-expected margin, taking 44 percent of the vote to Hagan's 53 percent – the widest margin for a Senate race in North Carolina in 30 years, and the largest margin of defeat for an incumbent Senator in the 2008 cycle. It has been speculated that the outcry over the "Godless" ad contributed to Dole's loss.[28] Hagan trounced Dole in the state's five largest counties – Mecklenburg, Wake, Guilford, Forsyth and Durham. Hagan also dominated most of the eastern portion of the state, which had been the backbone of Helms' past Senate victories. While Dole dominated the Charlotte suburbs and most of the heavily Republican Foothills region, it was not enough to save her seat.

Political positions

Dole's voting record was somewhat more conservative than that of her husband, though slightly less conservative than that of Helms. She has a lifetime rating of 92 from the American Conservative Union.

Dole worked with other senators such as Chuck Hagel to draft and attempt to pass legislation reforming housing financing regulation; the bill did not go up for a vote.[29]

In September 2008, Dole joined the Gang of 20, a bipartisan group working towards comprehensive energy reform. The group is pushing for a bill that would encourage state-by-state decisions on offshore drilling and authorize billions of dollars for conservation and alternative energy.[30]

As a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, Dole is credited with helping to prevent any closures of North Carolina military bases despite threats from the Department of Defense.[31] In 2007, she sponsored legislation which would have granted federal recognition of a North Carolina Native American tribe, the Lumbee based in Robeson County.[32]

Committee assignments

Dole was a member of the following U.S. Senate committees:

After politics: Elizabeth Dole Foundation

In 2012, Dole established the Elizabeth Dole Foundation,[33] dedicated to helping caregivers of "wounded warriors".[34]

Dole commissioned the RAND Corporation to develop the first nationwide comprehensive, evidence-based report on the needs of military and veteran caregivers.[35] The two-year study includes an environmental scan of available services, a gap analysis, and recommendations for meeting the enormous challenges of America's hidden heroes – the young spouses, mothers, fathers and other loved ones caring for those who cared for us. The study was generously supported by the Wounded Warrior Project, the Lilly Endowment, and the Cannon Foundation.[36]

The Foundation selects military and veteran caregivers from each state to serve a two-year Fellowship with the Foundation. The Dole Fellows represent a vast array of military caregivers: spouses, parents, siblings and friends, and use their voice to help bring awareness on a national scale.[37] The Foundation also has a National Coalition Program to bring together private and public entities to create substantial change .[38]

Actor Tom Hanks joined the Foundation's Hidden Heroes Campaign to bring awareness to the over 5.5 million military caregivers across America who are facing enormous challenges every day caring for members of the military and gravely injured veterans.[39]

Books by and about Elizabeth Dole

Bookcover of the Doles' story

Charity work

Dole accepted no salary from the Red Cross during her first year as president of the organization.[41]

Dole is an Honorary Board Member of the humanitarian organization Wings of Hope.[42]


In 1999, Dole received the S. Roger Horchow Award for Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.[43]

Electoral history

North Carolina U.S. Senate election, 2002[44]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Elizabeth Dole 1,248,664 53.56 +0.92
Democratic Erskine Bowles 1,047,983 44.96 -0.96
Libertarian Sean Haugh 33,807 1.45 +0.46
write-in Paul DeLaney 727 0.03 +0.02
Majority 200,681 8.6 +1.88
Turnout 2,331,181
Republican hold
North Carolina U.S. Senate Republican primary election, 2008[45]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Elizabeth Dole 460,665 90.0
Republican Pete DiLauro 51,406 10.0
Turnout 512,071
North Carolina U.S. Senate election, 2008[46]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Kay Hagan 2,249,311 52.65 +7.7
Republican Elizabeth Dole 1,887,510 44.18 -9.4
Libertarian Chris Cole 133,430 3.12 +1.6
Other write-ins 1,719 0.0 0
Majority 361,801
Turnout 4,271,970
Democratic gain from Republican Swing

See also


  1. 1 2 Mary Ella Cathey Hanford, "Asbury and Hanford Families: Newly Discovered Genealogical Information" The Historical Trail 33 (1996), pp. 44–45, 49.
  2. "Ancestry of Elizabeth Dole (b. 1936)". Wargs.com. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  3. "Elizabeth Dole". CNN. Retrieved 2010-05-01.
  4. 1 2 Elizabeth Hanford Dole, "For Such a Time As This: A Personal Statement of Faith" The Historical Trail 33 (1996) p. 26
  5. https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2026&dat=19961025&id=Xs0qAAAAIBAJ&sjid=iNAFAAAAIBAJ&pg=6208,2263630
  6. Duke University Archives. The Registrar's statistics for Fall 1957 show that 25 men and 12 women seniors were majoring in political science. In the 1958 Commencement Program, hers is the only name listed for departmental honors.
  7. "Distinguished Deltas". Delta Delta Delta. Retrieved 2010-03-25
  8. Duke University Archives (http://library.duke.edu/uarchives). Elizabeth Dole at Duke University: http://library.duke.edu/uarchives/history/eh_dole.html. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
  9. Duke University Archives. "Elizabeth Dole at Duke" http://library.duke.edu/uarchives/history/eh_dole.html. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
  10. Leonard, Mary (1999-09-21). "Dole Returns to Melrose Classroom". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-01-08.
  11. http://history.house.gov/People/Detail/12577?ret=True
  12. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 2, 2012. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
  13. Newsweek: The 'L' Word
  14. "Cain Surges, Nearly Ties Romney for Lead in GOP Preferences". Gallup.com. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  15. Starr, Alexandra (July 1999). "Running Mates: Who will be on the ticket in 2000?". The Washington Monthly.
  16. "Elizabeth Dole FEC Filing and Deed" (PDF). Pam's House Blend. 2001-12-26. Retrieved 2008-08-01.
  17. "Elizabeth Dole Gives Hint of Senate Race". The New York Times. 2001-08-24. Retrieved 2008-08-01.
  18. 2008 Election Challenge.
  19. 1 2 3 "Is the Southern Strategy Dead?". American Prospect. 2008-10-24. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
  20. "Scrambling the red states". The Economist. 2008-10-23. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
  21. "Dole, Hagan finishing pitch to voters". Raleigh News & Observer. 2008-11-02. Archived from the original on December 6, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-24.
  22. Brown, Campbell. Commentary: Mudslinging to get elected. CNN.com. October 29, 2008.
  23. KayHagan.com. Kay on Dole Ad Attacking Her Christian Faith: A Fabricated, Pathetic Ad. October 30, 2008.
  24. Dole Sued for 'Godless' Attack Ad, ABC News. October 30, 2008.
  25. Dole challenger irate over suggestion she is 'godless'⁠. CNN.com. October 30, 2008.
  26. "Dole's mistake: 'Godless' ad drove donors, voters to Hagan". Miami Herald. November 11, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-18.
  27. Barbara Barrett (2008-11-05). "N.C. voters deny Dole, elect Hagan to U.S. Senate". Miami Herald. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
  28. "Watt and Cobb battle for 12th District seat". Davidson County Dispatch. 2008-10-16. Retrieved 2008-10-16.
  29. Post your comment: Title (Optional) Your comments: (2008-09-12). "Klobuchar joins bipartisan energy group". StarTribune.com. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  30. "Looking for real reform in the governor's race". Independent Weekly. 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2008-11-25.
  31. "A steadfast few". Daily Tarheel. 2008-11-25. Retrieved 2008-11-26.
  32. Caring For Military Families: The Elizabeth Dole Foundation
  33. "Newly established Elizabeth Dole Foundation to help 'hidden heroes'". Salisbury Post. March 9, 2013.
  34. https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR499.html
  35. http://www.elizabethdolefoundation.org/why-we-help/hidden-heroes-report/
  36. http://www.elizabethdolefoundation.org/how-we-help/dole-fellow-program/
  37. http://www.elizabethdolefoundation.org/hiddenheroescoalition/
  38. http://www.elizabethdolefoundation.org/hidden-heroes/
  39. Kolbert, Elizabeth (1996-11-03). "Memoirs without Revelations". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-10-28.
  40. ":.: The Official Wings Of Hope Homepage :.:". Wings-of-hope.org. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  41. http://www.jeffersonawards.org/pastwinners/national
  42. "Breaking News". CNN.
  43. "NC State Board of Elections website". Results.enr.clarityelections.com. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  44. "NC State Board of Elections website". Results.enr.clarityelections.com. 2008-11-14. Retrieved 2010-06-17.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Anne Wexler
Director of the Office of Public Liaison
Succeeded by
Faith Whittlesey
Preceded by
Andrew Lewis
United States Secretary of Transportation
Succeeded by
James Burnley
Preceded by
Ann McLaughlin
United States Secretary of Labor
Succeeded by
Lynn Martin
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Richard Schubert
President of the American Red Cross
Succeeded by
Bernadine Healy
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Barbara Bush
Spouse of the Republican nominee for President of the United States
Succeeded by
Laura Bush
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jesse Helms
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from North Carolina
(Class 2)

2002, 2008
Succeeded by
Thom Tillis
Preceded by
George Allen
Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee
Succeeded by
John Ensign
United States Senate
Preceded by
Jesse Helms
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from North Carolina
Served alongside: John Edwards, Richard Burr
Succeeded by
Kay Hagan
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