Bob Dole released from hospital after skin graft

WASHINGTON | Former Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole left the hospital Tuesday after undergoing surgery for open sores on his legs.

Dole left Walter Reed Army Medical Center the evening before his 86th birthday, fulfilling his wish to be released in time to celebrate. On his way out, he weighed in on a heavy political issue commanding Congress’ attention: health care.

“Good to be out of the hospital and back with my family and my colleagues at Alston & Bird,” Dole said in a statement issued by the Washington law firm. “We are dealing with a number of issues that are important to our clients. As I was just reminded, one issue that affects nearly every American and every business is health care.”

Dole, a former Senate majority leader who represented Kansas in the House and the Senate, serves on an advisory board for the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank, with two other former majority leaders, Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Howard Baker of Tennessee. The board just published recommendations for health care reform.

Dole, who was the GOP nominee for president in 1996, sought medical treatment this month after experiencing a sharply elevated heart rate in the middle of the night. Doctors who examined him said his heart was fine but were concerned about open sores on his legs. They performed several procedures, including a skin graft on his left leg.

Dole is scheduled to return for a checkup on Friday and will continue to be monitored, the statement from his law firm said.