Elizabeth Hanford Dole

Elizabeth Hanford Dole has surpasses any expectations ever set upon her by
friends and family, yet she is still faced with her perfectionist ways that led her to many
years in public service for the United States (Bio). She is a profound, intellectual,
over-accomplished woman who has let nothing stand in her way of getting what she
wants. Elizabeth has spend almost three decades in the public’s view, she has no
children, no house, and no one knows her well. She put her career on hold numerous
times to help campaign for her husband, Bob Dole, in presidential elections and is now
considering to run for President in 2000, which will only add to her numerous
achievements (Elizabeth).
Elizabeth Hanford was born on July 29, 1936 in Salisbury, North Carolina
(Elizabeth). When she was only one, her mother, Mary Cathey Hanford said that “she is
very willful and insists on having her own way.” Elizabeth grew up in a prosperous
family, her father was a flower wholesaler and she had the luxury of a spacious
Tudor-style home (Stengel). Her mother was still living in that same house at the age of
95 and Elizabeth considers her mother to be her best friend (About). She had horseback
riding, piano lessons, French club and debutante balls. This is why the public perceives
her as a Southern belle (Stengel). She grew up with an older brother who was also her
childhood mentor and they are still close today (About). Her parents added greatly to her
ambitious nature. When Liddy, a childhood name, graduated from high school, she was
voted Most Likely to Succeed by her class (Stengel).
When Elizabeth headed off to college at Duke, her mother insisted that she major
in home economics, but she chose political science. She was an outstanding student who
would not pass up the chance to run for an office. Elizabeth graduated with distinction
from Duke in 1958. She was student-body president, Phi Beta Kappa and May Queen, a
pre-feminist female achievement (Bio). Elizabeth later graduated from Harvard with a
master’s degree in education and government. She then attended Harvard Law school in
1962, one of 24 women in a class of 550. Elizabeth then graduated in 1965, one of the
first women to earn a law degree from Harvard (Record). Her mother was still insisting
that she become a wife and settle down. Mary Cathey Hanford had chosen a family over
a Juilliard education and a musical career (Stengel).
Fresh out of Harvard, she joined the Department of Health, Education and
Welfare (HEW) where she set her eyes on consumer advocacy and was placed on
President Lyndon Johnson’s Committee on Consumer Affairs. She helped write new
laws demanding truth in packaging. Elizabeth practiced law as a public defender in
Washington, D.C. (Record). Elizabeth Hanford was making her mark on Washington.
She was made Deputy Assistant of the White House Office of Consumer Affairs under
President Nixon from 1971-73. Elizabeth was a member of the Federal Trade
Commission (FTC) from 1973-1979 (Stengel).
In the spring of 1972, Elizabeth was set up with a recently divorced Senator from
Kansas, Robert J. Dole. She found him to be “awfully attractive” but he did not call her
and she would not call him. She then ran into Dole at the Republican Convention in
1972 and it was magic ever since. They were then married on December 6, 1975. She
became a step-mother to Bob’s only daughter, Robin, from his previous marriage. Robin
has been quoted as saying, “God is the most important thing in her life” (Stengel).
The couple quickly became known as Washington’s original “power couple”
because of their professional dedication to each other and their jobs (About). Elizabeth
was first a Democrat, then an independent and converted to the Republican Party when
she married Bob. She also modified her views to match those of her husband. Elizabeth
might have given up the chance of having children to have a better career and help her
husband with campaigns. When they are both on the road, they check in on each other a
few times a day, Bob even has her itinerary faxed to him daily. The Doles still live in the
same Watergate complex that Bob moved into after his divorce (Stengel). They are just
like any couple and prefer to be at home enjoying a nice dinner for two or visiting family
(About).
Mrs. Dole took a leave from her FTC job when Dole was named Ford’s running
mate in the 1976 elections.