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Billings residents remember times with Bob Dole

Bob Dole.jpg
Posted at 10:28 PM, Dec 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-06 00:28:53-05

Sen. Bob Dole, who died on Sunday, had visited Billings, campaigning for President and also campaigning for Sen. Conrad Burns.

The former Senate Majority Leader and the World War II veteran was 98 and had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in February 2021.

"He was one of the finest people in the greatest generation, they call it the World War II people," said Dwight MacKay, who campaigned with Dole. "He was a man of great humor. He was a man of great moral character. Probably one of the the best things about him as majority leader was the fact that he worked across the aisle all the time."

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KTVQ photo

Mackay, retired US Marshal and former Yellowstone County Commissioner, campaigned with Dole who won the Republican nomination for president in 1996.

"He was probably one of the most clever, interesting guys you'd ever meet in your life," MacKay said. "Had he done that during his campaign when he was running for president, he would have won in a landslide."

Dole also campaigned for Sen. Conrad Burns, who served three terms from 1989 to 2007.

"Every election year, he would come to Montana and campaign for Conrad all over the state," said Phyllis Burns, wife of the late Senator.

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Phyllis Burns said her husband really liked Senator Dole.

"It really made a difference in trying to figure your way out when you're a freshman Senator in D.C. to have somebody to talk to and Bob Dole was always willing to do that," Phyllis Burns said. "He was a very nice man."

Mackay was chief of staff in Montana for Burns, and talked about another campaign story with Senator Dole.

"A young fellow out in the crowd held up a big sign says your brain works about as good as your arm," MacKay said. "(Dole) said, 'the reason this arm is the way it is, is so you can hold up that sign.' And that kid, his eyes started tearing up. And he put that sign down and he said, 'Oh, I'm so sorry, sir.' And Bob Dole turned around, patted him on the shoulder, went back up and it you know, finished the speech."