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Speaking At KU, Bill Clinton Says 'Let's Make A Deal' Should Be Constitution's Subtitle

Elle Moxley
Bill Clinton accepts the 2015 Dole Leadership Prize at the Lied Center on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence.

President Bill Clinton had nothing but praise for the man who ran against him in 1996 during a speech Monday at the University of Kansas.

Clinton was in Lawrence to receive the 2015 Dole Leadership Prize, which he was awarded for his legacy of bipartisanship during his terms in the White House.

But it was Bob Dole, says Clinton, who was truly willing to reach across the aisle.

“He could fight you like no tomorrow,” said Clinton of Dole, “but he never closed the door on something that could benefit a real person.”

Clinton described Dole as a veteran whose experiences recovering from injuries sustained in World War II shaped the politician he became. Clinton says he’ll never forget a rousing speech Dole gave urging members of his party to pass a United Nations resolution protecting people with disabilities.

“As long as I live, I’ll remember Bob Dole in his wheelchair talking to members of the Senate about the imperative of recognizing not just human dignity, but human potential,” Clinton said.

During his hour-long speech, Clinton referred often to Dole, describing how the former Senator urged Congress to act during the Mexican peso crisis.

Though Hillary Clinton is running for president, Bill Clinton scarcely mentioned the 2016 election. Instead, he focused on how to return to the spirit of bipartisanship Dole embraced in the ’90s.

“I like all these debates,” Clinton said. “I like a good fight as well as the next person. But in the end, the Constitution was set up so that it might have been subtitled, ‘Let’s make a deal.’”

Clinton received a $25,000 cash prize, which he donated back to the Dole Institute to establish a women’s leadership speaker series.

Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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