Elizabeth Dole was in Washington on Tuesday with her husband, Bob Dole, who was trying to convince GOP senators to adopt a treaty that promotes the rights of people who are disabled.
Dole's effort had no effect. The measure ended up short of the two-thirds majority needed to ratify a foreign treaty. Sen. Richard Burr voted against ratification; Sen. Kay Hagan voted in support.
The 89-year-old Bob Dole, who was a longtime senator from Kansas and the GOP's 1996 presidential nominee, is disabled from a war injury and sat in a wheelchair on the Senate floor on Tuesday.
According to Foreign Policy, Dole's appearance was intended to be "a dramatic effort to force any Republicans who intended to vote against the treaty to walk past him to do so."
Sen. John Kerry said Dole's appearance marked what may have been first time a former Senate majority leader used his privileges to come to the Senate for a vote, and POLITICO reports Kerry told his colleagues "don't let Sen. Bob Dole down" ahead of the vote.
Republicans who opposed the bill insist their opposition was related to U.S. sovereignty and concerns over relations with the United Nations. The treaty would have had little substantive impact on U.S. law and was largely symbolic in trying to get other countries to enact policies to help people with disabilities improve their quality of life.
Elizabeth Dole served a term in the U.S. Senate, representing North Carolina from 2003 to 2009.