A World War II veteran and long-serving U.S. senator from Kansas, Bob Dole was also the Republican nominee for U.S. president in 1996. Bob Dole was born in Kansas and played football and basketball at the University of Kansas after enrolling in 1942. He left to join the U.S. Army, and while serving as a lieutenant during World War II he was seriously injured by German machine-gun fire in Italy in 1945. At first Dole was not expected to survive; he recovered, but was partially paralyzed and left without the use of his right arm. (In later years he often clutched a pen in his injured right hand, "to keep his fingers from splaying and to ward off people who might try to shake that hand," the New York Times
reported in 1996.) Dole worked his way back to health and completed both his bachelor's degree and his law degree from Washburn University in 1952, then entered politics as a Republican. He was first elected to the U.S. Congress in 1960; he was then elected to the U.S. Senate in 1968. In 1976 he was President Gerald Ford
's running mate in Ford's unsuccessful run against Jimmy Carter
. During the 1980s, Dole was a high-profile American politician, serving as both Senate majority leader and minority leader as Republicans were in and out of power. Dole's presidential aspirations were well-known, and he finally won the GOP nomination in 1996 and resigned his Senate seat to run against incumbent President Bill Clinton
. Dole lost the vote that November; Clinton was reelected with 379 electoral votes to Dole's 159. After that unsuccessful bid, Bob Dole worked as a lawyer, became a prominent spokesman for Viagra and Pepsi Cola, and made occasional appearances on television as a commentator or guest star. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton in 1997.