Former Sen. Bob Dole said Thursday he never intended to salute the casket of late President George H.W. Bush this week, but when he stood up to acknowledge his friend his arm shot up without hesitation.
The 95-year-old Republican, who was the Senate minority leader during Bush’s presidency, created one of the lasting images from this week’s services to remember Bush when he, assisted by an aide, got up from his wheelchair and gave a salute as Bush’s body was lying in State at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday.
“I came to the rotunda just to say goodbye, to wheel up to the casket and maybe stand up,” Dole told Fox News on Thursday afternoon. “And so I did that, with no thought of saluting. They stood me up, and it was almost automatic. My left hand came up to my forehead . . . it never was planned.”
Dole said the loss of Bush, who served one term as the nation’s 41st president from 1989-1993, will create a “heavy burden” for the entire Bush family to carry on its shoulders.
“It’s been a very busy week for the Bush family and this will cap the entire proceeding,” Dole said, referencing Thursday evening’s burial. “I’m certain it will be a very heavy burden for the family to carry for a while.”
Dole was also asked about the gridlock in the nation’s capital and if he had any advice for the current Senate leaders to repair it.
“When [Bush] was president, I was the Republican leader in the Senate. We got things done because we worked with our Democratic colleagues. Most of the things we passed were bipartisan,” Dole said.
“How do we get back? I wish I knew, I’d call up [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell. But they’re not there now by a long shot.”