What Is Bob Dole's Connection To Taiwan & Donald Trump? The President-Elect's Controversial Call Just Got A Bit Weirder
President-elect Donald Trump's controversial phone call to the president of Taiwan may have been on Friday, but in the fast-moving news cycle between his election and upcoming inauguration, that phone call is once again making headlines. The most recent reports neither decry the supposed diplomatic blunder or call it a stroke of genius — instead, they focus on the call's unexpected middleman. Former representative and one-time Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole took credit for arranging Trump's Taiwan call. But what does Dole have to do with Trump and Taiwan? His connection to the contentious former Chinese province is somewhat surprising.
Dole himself suggested to The Wall Street Journal that he was the person that arranged the phone call between Trump and Taiwan's new president, Tsai Ing-wen. According to Dole, the law firm he works with has a working relationship with the stateside Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office. In discussing the call, Dole remarked that it's "fair to say that we may have had some influence."
Despite the unprecedented nature of the communication, Trump representatives said the call with Taiwan was planned weeks ahead of time as one of multiple calls with world leaders they'd arranged for the transition. Following the initial shock and accusations of a foreign policy slip-up, some are now claiming the call was both bold and brilliant.
Many millennials won't recognize Dole's name, but our parents will — the former Kansas congressman and decorated World War II veteran was Bill Clinton's unsuccessful Republican presidential challenger in 1996, after which he retired to publicly criticizing Newt Gingrich while stumping for Mitt Romney. A archetypical "Washington insider," Dole has been a Republican elder statesman for almost as long as I've been alive, and has the political clout to show for it.
Not one to miss the excitement of a presidential election even in his old age, Dole declared that Trump is "going to make a great president" at the Republican National Convention, and maintained his support even after tapes surfaced of Trump making sexist comments while being recorded.
Dole's arrangement of the call between Trump and Ing-wen, while somewhat out of the blue, is par for the course for both Trump and Dole. They're both businessmen at heart, and the fact that Dole "called in a favor" to put in motion a phone call between two recently-elected heads of state proves the kind of power these men have. While it might be somewhat random, it's also chilling to think about these kinds of "favors" being called in on Trump's behalf.