Former Senate majority leader and 1996 Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole had harsh words for today’s GOP on this weekend’s “Fox News Sunday.”
Dole told host Chris Wallace that his party needs to focus on “positive agendas.”
“I think they ought to put a sign on the national committee doors that says closed for repairs until New Year’s Day next year and spend that time going over ideas and positive agendas,” Dole said.
Dole added that he doubted whether he and former President Ronald Reagan would be successful in today’s Republican Party.
“I doubt it,” Dole replied. “And I — Reagan wouldn’t have made it. Certainly Nixon couldn’t have made it, because he had ideas and, we might have made it, but I doubt it. I mean … I just consider myself a Republican, none of this hyphenated stuff. I was a mainstream conservative Republican, and most people are in that category.”
Dole also took a shot at his then-counterpart in the House when he was Senate majority leader, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. He said that although he thinks Gingrich is “brilliant,” he has his political shortcomings.
WALLACE: Newt Gingrich.
DOLE: Newt is a brilliant in many respects. He’s the kind of a guy that can lead the revolution, but he can’t lead after he succeeds. It was always what he did, what Newt did. And I was a tax collector for the welfare state. Well, I don’t have any quarrel with him now.
WALLACE: But you haven’t forgotten either.
DOLE: I haven’t forgotten. And I’m glad he wasn’t our nominee.
Dole was a bit more flattering toward former President Bill Clinton, who defeated him in the 1996 presidential election.
“He’s a good guy,” Dole said.
“I remember getting a handwritten seven-page letter from Nixon telling me all about the race. And the last paragraph was: If the economy is good, you can’t beat Clinton. That’s probably not the only reason I didn’t beat Clinton, but it was a factor.”