Bill Clinton delivered an ode to bipartisanship and to his former political foe, U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, when the former president accepted a leadership award at the University of Kansas on Monday.
Clinton, who defeated Dole in the 1996 presidential election, praised him as someone who fought passionately but was willing to work toward compromise.
“I kept my door open. He kept his door open,” Clinton recalled about Dole’s leadership of Senate Republicans during the first term of Clinton’s presidency.
Clinton received the 2015 Dole Leadership Award from KU’s Dole Institute of Politics. One previous winner is former President George H.W. Bush.
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He spoke about a broad range of topics: the study of the human genome, the Bosnian War during his presidency, how cell phones are spurring economic development in areas of Southeast Asia damaged by the 2004 tsunami. The one constant theme was Clinton’s admiration for Dole, who he said exemplified the virtue of bipartisanship.
Clinton said that the U.S. Constitution is designed to encourage compromise, joking that it should have been subtitled “Let’s Make a Deal.”
“If you want public service that addresses the great concerns of the age … we’ve got to go back to that,” he said.
Clinton did not mention his wife, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, during his speech.