Bob Dole was accustomed to being the big name in his family. As long-time U.S. Senator from Kansas, Senate Republican Leader, 1976 Vice Presidential nominee, and 1996 Presidential nominee, he was recognized wherever he went.
His wife, Elizabeth, was no shrinking violet, however. An accomplished politician in her own right, she served in the administrations of Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford. Ronald Reagan appointed her as the first female Secretary of Transportation. George H.W. Bush named her Secretary of Labor. She ended her political career by serving one term as U.S. Senator from South Carolina.
As his wife’s fame grew, Bob was unperturbed. He said, “There were a lot of stories and a lot of pictures taken. I was always in the picture, but I was never identified. They said, ‘The man on the left is the husband.’
When People magazine ran a featured story about Elizabeth’s nomination as Secretary of Transportation, a photographer came to the Dole residence to get some informal pictures. One of the pictures in the article showed Bob and Elizabeth working together to make the bed. This did not go over well with all of the readers. A gentleman from California wrote to Bob, saying, “Senator, I don’t mind your wife getting the job. She’s well qualified. She’s doing good work. But you’ve got to stop doing the work around the house. You’re causing problems for men all across the country.”
Bob, with his trademark humor, wrote back: “Buster, you don’t know the half of it. The only reason she was helping was because they were taking pictures.”