Big Night

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: It was Washington, and Bob Dole was being honored, but not perhaps in the way he had long hoped. With the Presidential Medal of Freedom around his neck, Dole stood Friday in the White House he'd failed to claim and said: "I, Robert J. Dole ... " As East Room erupted in laughter, Dole continued dryly: " ... do solemnly swear. Uh, wrong speech." Just three days before Clinton will utter that same oath, he awarded his election opponent the nation's highest civilian honor. Dole was clearly moved when Clinton said: "Son of the soil, citizen, soldier and legislator, Bob Dole understands the American people, their struggles, their triumphs and their dreams." Choking back tears, Dole said "I will cherish it as long as I live." But even as he was moved, Dole kept his sense of humor: "I had a dream that I would be, this historical week, receiving something from the president. But I thought it would be the front door key."