Republican heavyweight Bob Dole has endorsed Donald Trump for president.
The former Kansas senator and 1996 Republican presidential nominee said Friday it was important that party figures “honored” the will of voters by supporting Trump in November’s general election.
Despite having previously aired harsh views on Trump, a statement issued by Dole said that he planned to throw all his weight behind the GOP’s presumptive nominee in order to ensure that Hillary Clinton stays out of the White House.
Trump revealed the endorsement at a rally on Friday night in Nebraska.
Trump is the third Republican candidate Dole has endorsed across the 2016 election cycle.
Dole had initially agreed to back long-time friend Jeb Bush for the nomination – offering his official endorsement last November. But after Bush was forced to pull out of the race at the start of the year, Dole then turned his attention to Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
“He worked for my ’96 campaign in Dade County, Florida, and so I’ve had an acquaintance with him way back in ’96 when he was a hard worker,” Dole told ABC’s Political Powerhouse podcast in February. “And he’s young. He wants to grow the party.”
Meanwhile, Dole told ABC hosts Jonathan Karl and Rick Klein that Donald Trump would find it difficult to win the Oval Office until he was able to “tone down” his outlandish rhetoric.
“Trump has to start acting like a presidential candidate and tone down the rhetoric and don’t insult anybody,” Dole said. “He’s got to understand the presidency is an overwhelming position and you can’t do it alone, and you gotta have qualified people with some experience. You can’t bring in all the outsiders.”
That being said, Dole did add that Trump could ultimately end up surprising voters with his leadership capabilities. Dole also mentioned that he would be willing to become an adviser for the Trump administration if given the chance.
After Dole’s second chosen candidate was forced to bow out of the race in March, the former Kansas Republican senator may be able to secure that opportunity to work alongside Trump after all.
On Friday, Dole said that he planned to show his support for Trump at the GOP convention in Cleveland. He also went on to add that it was crucial fellow Republicans follow suit in order to prevent Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton from winning the White House in November.
Trump’s campaign responded to the endorsement by issuing a statement saying it was “a great honor” to have Dole’s support – adding the former senator “is a wonderful man”.
Dole isn’t the first Republican heavyweight to cave in and show support for the party’s presumptive nominee. Earlier this week, Senators John McCain, Chuck Grassley, and Kelly Ayotte all offered Trump their official endorsements.
That being said, not every leading GOP figure has fallen into line. The party’s 2012 presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, has already said he will not back Trump in this year’s election. Likewise, Presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush have both said they will not be attending the convention in order to support Trump this summer.
[Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images]