The Republican senator from Kansas, who was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer in February, died in his sleep, according to the foundation of Dole’s wife, Elizabeth Dole.
“It is with heavy hearts we announce that Senator Robert Joseph Dole died early this morning,” the foundation posted on Twitter.
“He had served the United States of America faithfully for 79 years.”
Dole sought the presidency three times and was his party's nominee in 1996 but lost to Democratic incumbent Bill Clinton. He was his party's vice presidential nominee in 1976 on a ticket headed by incumbent president Gerald Ford, but they lost to Democrat Jimmy Carter and his running mate Walter Mondale.
Dole was known for his self-deprecating wit and often referred to himself in the third person.
He grew up in the Great Depression of the 1930s and served in the Second World War. He was wounded in Italy shortly before the end of the conflict.
Dole represented Kansas in Congress for 35 years – from 1961 to 1969 in the House of Representatives and from 1969 to 1996 in the Senate, where he shepherded legislation as majority leader in the 1980s.
“Our nation and world is better for the service and sacrifice of Bob Dole,” Pennsylvania politician Chris Quinn posted on social media. “May he Rest In Peace.”