Robert Joseph Dole, a renowned member of the Republican party and a veteran of World War II, died at the age of 98, according to a statement from the Elizabeth Dole Foundation on Sunday.

According to reports from NBC News, Dole announced in February this year that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and would soon be starting treatment for the disease.

The former politician, who was also called Bob Dole, was the Republican nominee in the 1996 United States presidential elections but lost to opponent Bill Clinton. He became the majority leader in the Senate and worked on crucial issues like raising awareness about disabilities and reforming food the food stamp programme. 

The statement from Elizabeth Dole Foundation read, “It is with heavy hearts we announce that Senator Robert Joseph Dole died early this morning in his sleep. At his death, at age 98, he had served the United States of America faithfully for 79 years. More information coming soon.”

During his 36-year career on Capitol Hill, Dole became one of the most influential legislators and party leaders in the United States Senate. According to reports from Associated Press, he combined talent of negotiating with a caustic wit, which he often turned on himself but did not hesitate to turn on others, too.

Dole also has been involved in at least four presidential campaigns. In addition to the 1996 loss against former President Bill Clinton, he sought GOP’s presidential nomination in 1980 and 1988. He also ran alongside Gerald Ford in 1976 and sought the office of United States Vice President.

He served as a committee chairman, majority leader and minority leader in the Senate during the 1980s and 90s. Altogether, he was the Republicans’ leader in the upper legislative house for more than 11 years, a record until Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell broke it in 2018. It was during this period that he earned a reputation as a shrewd, pragmatic legislator, tireless in fashioning compromises.

(With AP inputs)