HEALTH POLITICS: Bob Dole: Better Late Than Never Brigade In the Nick of Time
In 1993-94, then Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole, a Kansas Republican who had presidential ambitions and a hankering to regain his position as Senate Majority Leader, helped kill President Bill Clinton's health reform initiative.
"I want this to pass," he said. "I don't agree with everything Obama is presenting, but we've got to do something." He added that he expected to see a Rose Garden signing ceremony within months.
Dole joins a lengthening parade of prominent Republicans, including Bill Frist, in endorsing health reform. (They may not change many minds in a polarized Congress, but might be a help to centrists in both parties. Having Frist and Dole on board would make it easier for someone like Republican Olympia Snowe to vote yes... and harder for a moderate Democrat like Ben Nelson to vote no.)
"Politics took over," he said. "And you (the public) lost."
There's also been a bit of back and forth in the press with Dole saying that the current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told him not to publicly support health reform. A McConnell spokesman denied it.
Dole has been working on bipartisan health reform with other former Senate leaders. He and Tom Daschle released a statement this week acknowledging that the various reform bills in Congress are flawed but "provide some basis on which Congress can move forward."
"The American people have waited decades and if this moment passes us by, it may be decades more before there is another opportunity," they said.