Bob Dole lost his bid for the White House in less than 10 seconds. It was during his presidential debate with Bill Clinton. He was practiced, poised, and a respected senator. He had his party’s nomination and was admired by many. But he was older than Clinton, and he wanted a way to express the value of his wisdom. Perhaps he hadn’t thought it through, or perhaps one of his staffers hadn’t considered the ramifications, when Dole said, “I want to be a bridge to the past.”
In what seemed like a nanosecond, Clinton quipped, “Well, I want to be a bridge to the future,” and it was over. Oh, they had to go on for a few more weeks, money had to be spent, polls had to be taken, an election had to be held, but it was over. Bob Dole lost because Bill Clinton had a quick comeback and used Dole’s own incomplete thought against him.
I believe Dole’s argument, although he never got to make it, was that there is value in looking at the past as long as we learn from it. With age comes wisdom from the accumulation of past experiences. Would Bob Dole have been a better choice for the American people? We will never know. It looks as if history will be more than kind to Bill Clinton, who was a great president, but Dole lost it all in an ill-advised nine words.