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Senator John McCain of Arizona Speech Nominating Robert Dole

August 14, 1996 at 12:00 AM EDT


JOHN MCCAIN:  In America we celebrate the virtues of the quiet hero; the modest man who does his duty without complaint or expectation of praise; the man who listens closely for the call of his country, and when she calls, he answers without reservation, not for fame or reward, but for love. He loves his country.

Tonight, my friends, we come to celebrate such a man, and bestow upon him the greatest honor our Party is empowered to grant — our nomination for President of the United States. But our purpose is not only to give tribute to this man — though a fitting tribute it is. Our purpose is much larger than that. Our purpose is our country’s greatness which we mean to preserve by offering to this nation the leadership of the man from Russell, Kansas.

Tonight we ask Bob Dole to answer his country’s call again, and stand a post for America — the first post of the land — not for his sake, but for ours; not for his glory, but for the dreams we dream for our children, and for the dreams they will dream for theirs.

We nominate Bob Dole for President because he is a man of honor, a man of firm purpose and deep commitment to his country’s cause. We nominate Bob Dole for President because this nation deserves better than the aimless direction we have endured for four years.

We nominate Bob Dole for President because we will not take our leave of this century without affirming to the world that America — blessed, bountiful, beautiful America — will remain what she has always been the last best hope of earth.

Ours is not a blind conceit for a country that’s been good to us. We have heard the voices of those who have yet to share in the promise of America. But Bob Dole wants to lead an America where every father’s child can do as well as his father’s child has done because he knows in his heart how great is the promise of America, how generous is the dream of America; how just is the cause of America. The Americans who fought in the Second World War came home to the G.I. Bill and a booming economy.

They immediately began building prosperous lives and a better nation. They used their opportunities to create greater opportunities for other Americans. And they gave a name to this century. They call it the American Century. Like a lot of guys, Bob Dole went to war for his country’s sake, and he came home a little broken by the experience.

He had to rebuild himself before he could build his career. But he didn’t do it alone. He had a lot of help. He had a family that never let him down. He had a lot of friends and neighbors in Russell who gave what little money they had to help pay for Bob’s recovery.

They were good people, these Kansans — the very best. Many of them are gone now, but I know Bob sees their faces every day. Every day.

He knows what he owes them. They gave him hope. And they told him to serve the hopes of others. That is what Bob Dole has done all his life. In his plain-spoken, dignified way Bob Dole has carried our deepest cares, and held our brightest hopes. And that, my friends, is why the American people will elect this decent, honorable man to lead this great country to the next American century.

Others may offer you soundbites and showmanship. But Bob Dole offers you leadership . . . leadership evident in the stature of a man who risked his life for love of country, and considers service to America his honor. All I want you to believe about Bob Dole is that he gets his vision from you. Your hopes are his mission. Your cares are his cause. Your dreams are his purpose and your country is the love of his life. America, we cannot spare this man. I have had the honor in my life of being commanded by a great many brave, resourceful and decent leaders, but none more so than my friend, Bob Dole.

A long time ago, in another walk of life, I was deprived of my liberty. The brave men I served with there wanted nothing more than to keep faith with our country, and for our country to keep faith with us.

When the United States Senate tried to cut off funding for the war in Vietnam before America’s prisoners of war were released, Bob Dole led the opposition. For seven weeks he forcefully debated the measure, and succeeded in preventing America from leaving the field while so many of her sons remained the prisoners of our enemies. All the while he waged that debate, Bob Dole wore a POW bracelet that bore my name. I never knew that Bob had done me that great honor until very recently. Bob never told me he wore my bracelet.

He never sought my thanks. He never imposed on me an obligation to him for the support he gave me at a time when I needed it most. I learned of it just last winter during a debate on Bosnia, when Bob mentioned it only to emphasize the point that no matter how strong our opposition to the President’s policy, we must never let our troops doubt for a second that they had the full support of the United States Congress.

Although Bob never asked for recognition for his kindness to me, I have felt since learning of it, that this modest, good man deserved from me a heartfelt expression of gratitude. I wish to do so now.

For myself, for my comrades who came home with me to the country we loved so dearly, and for the many thousands who did not: thank you, Bob. Thank you for the honor of your concern and support. We fought in different wars, but we keep the same faith. I shall always be grateful.

As a downpayment on my gratitude, I am privileged to render you a small service this evening, but, by so doing, I render a far greater service to my country by placing before this convention, the name of my friend, the Honorable Robert Dole of Russell, Kansas in nomination for the Presidency of the greatest nation on earth. God bless you, Bob, and God bless America.