In a candid interview with The New York Times, the 92-year-old former Senate majority leader and 1996 Republican nominee for president said he thinks Donald Trump would fare better as the Republican nominee.
"I question his allegiance to the party," Dole said referring to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). "I don't know how often you've heard him say the word 'Republican' — not very often." Cruz often refers to himself as "conservative" rather than "Republican." Dole added he thinks there's a better word for Cruz to use to refer to himself: "extremist."
"I don't know how he's going to deal with Congress," he said. "Nobody likes him."
Dole said Trump could "probably work with Congress, because he's, you know, he's got the right personality and he's kind of a deal-maker."
Dole, a U.S. senator from Kansas through the 70s, 80s, and into the 90s, won the Republican nomination in 1996 but went on to lose to incumbent President Bill Clinton. He served as the Republican leader in the U.S. Senate from 1985 to 1996.
Dole's remarks come just days after Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad expressed hopes for Cruz's defeat in the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1.
Cruz and Trump, the first and second place candidates in the GOP field in Iowa, have no endorsements from sitting politicians. But both have strong support from the Tea Party, Libertarians, and parts of the conservative movement. For example, not only has Trump garnered the endorsement of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a prominent Tea Party figure, he also has the support of big-time conservative talk radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, conservative pundit and author Ann Coulter and also conspiracy radio show host Alex Jones of Infowars.
Cruz, meanwhile, has the support of a who's-who of Evangelical leaders, as well as former Fox News personality and noted Tea Party activist Glenn Beck, who hits the campaign trail with Cruz this weekend.