4:06 P.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Mr. President, Speaker Ryan, Leader Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, distinguished members of Congress, to Vice President Quayle, Governor Brownback, to Senator Elizabeth and Robin, all the members of the Dole family, and especially to the newest recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal — the Honorable Senator Bob Dole. (Applause.)
It’s humbling for me to stand before you today. I do so as Vice President, as President of the Senate, and as I told Bob, as the husband of 32 years of a Kansas-born Karen Pence. (Applause.)
As we heard today, from so many speakers more eloquent than me, from the windswept plains of Kansas, to the war-torn hills of Italy, to the marbled halls of Washington, D.C., Bob Dole has spent a lifetime serving this country with courage and conviction.
Today, we heard stories from those who’ve known and worked with Senator Dole throughout his life. We’ve heard the examples of his character, and they are legion. But for my part, there was one moment in his life that seemed for me to embody the character of this great American.
At every stage of his life, Bob epitomized the Greatest Generation. When you answered the call of duty, serving as a decorated combat veteran in World War Two; when you represented your state in the Congress of the United States; when you led the Congress as Majority Leader; and there was also that time in history when Senator Bob Dole answered the call to run for President of the United States.
But it was in the midst of that campaign that he did something that I believe generations of those of us who are called to public service will remember and reflect on. As the Senate Majority Leader, Bob Dole held one of the most powerful positions in Washington, D.C., a role that would have been waiting for him if he had lost the race for the White House.
But on a spring day in 1996, Bob Dole did something different — but not different from his character, not different from the long expanse of service in his life. Bob Dole took to the floor of the United States Senate and did what other statesmen have done in the history of this nation, and he voluntarily relinquished a position of authority. He bid that historic chamber good-bye. He stepped down from the United States Senate, and he told the American people, “I will seek the Presidency with nothing to fall back on…but the White House or home.”
In that moment, Bob, I’ll always believe that the American people saw your heart, your selflessness. For you did in that moment as you’ve done throughout his life, you put the interests of the country first, and you demonstrated your unwavering commitment to serve the American people. No matter the cost.
Senator Dole, it is my great honor to stand before you today and offer a few words among so many others. We’ve heard of your life of service and of consequence, but, Bob, you deserve to hear it from someone far more important than me on this day.
So, ladies and gentlemen, it is my high honor and distinct privilege to introduce on this special occasion, the 45th President of the United States of America — President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
4:11 P.M. EST