Savannah Guthrie Joins Bush, Clinton and Barbra Streisand for Bob and Elizabeth Dole Birthday Bash

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"Oh my word, I am just absolutely overwhelmed," Elizabeth told Guthrie. "To hear from so many precious friends. And such beautiful messages. … We draw energy from the warmth of your friendship, from your support and love. And let's just keep giving that to each other during these incredibly challenging times."

In February 2019, the Doles made an appearance on the Today show to reflect on their more-than-40-year relationship. Bob, who was a Kansas senator from 1969 to 1996, and Elizabeth, who served as a North Carolina Senator from 2003 to 2009, met in 1972 during a meeting at his office.

“All of a sudden, the side door opens and in comes Bob Dole. And I look up and I think, ‘Gee, he’s a good-looking guy,’ ” recalled Elizabeth of seeing her eventual husband for the first time. “And he says he wrote my name on the back of his blotter.”

Bob didn’t ask her out until the third time they talked on the phone — which Elizabeth said only made her like him more. “I really liked that a lot, because I realized he’s not some guy chasing women around Capitol Hill,” she said.

Added Bob: “I never did that — couldn’t catch ’em anyway!”

As Elizabeth told PEOPLE in 1976 of their 18-month courtship, “I was having too good a time.” The couple even lived near one another in Watergate apartments for a time before she moved in with him and rented out her own place.

The couple wed in 1975 and “believe it or not,” they have never had a “serious argument” in all their years of marriage, Elizabeth told Today last year.

“I love his compassionate heart and the fact that he loved to feel that each day he could make a difference for at least one person in need,” she said. “And I loved the fact that he had such a great sense of humor.”

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