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Where Bob Dole liked to spend time in South Florida when he was a political powerhouse

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Bob Dole, former U.S. senator and presidential candidate, died Sunday at age 98. During his political prime, he was a frequent visitor to Bal Harbour, just north of Surfside and Miami Beach, where he stayed at wife Elizabeth Dole’s condo at the Sea View.

Here is a look back at past coverage of his visits, chronicled in the archives of the Miami Herald:

POLITICS IN THE SUNSHINE

Published Dec. 17, 1987

Newsweek calls it “a warm-weather redoubt for the wealthy and politically connected.”

Former Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole owns an apartment there, where she vacations with her husband, Republican presidential aspirant Sen. Bob Dole.

Among other regulars at the Sea View are news commentator David Brinkley, former Democratic national chairman and powerhouse lawyer Robert Strauss, and White House Chief of Staff Howard Baker.

Yet this is not one of Miami’s most expensive hotels. It is the Sea View Hotel, which from the outside looks about as remarkable as a 14-story apartment complex and doesn’t charge much more than a Holiday Inn.

What draws the wealthy and powerful to this old-fashioned hotel?

Maybe it’s the same thing that attracts the North Shore Kiwanis Club, which sings God Bless America at the Sea View every Tuesday during its meeting.

“We needed a place we could call home and the Sea View offered us that,” said Eli Tourgeman, president of the club, which moved to the Sea View more than two years ago.

“The hotel has a lot of old charm,” said Tourgeman. “They treat us with respect.”

There may be another reason.

Sea View Hotel in Bal Harbour.
Sea View Hotel in Bal Harbour.

“They choose the Sea View because of the man that owns it, Dwayne Andreas,” said Arthur Courshon, chairman of Jefferson Bank Corp. Andreas is the chairman and secretary of the Sea View Hotel and chairman of Archer-Daniels-Midland, an Illinois-based multibillion-dollar company that is a leading producer of ethanol.

Courshon said Andreas is not one of the reasons the Washington elite are attracted to the Sea View. “He’s the only reason,” Courshon said.

“Andreas has been active in politics on both sides for a long time,” Courshon said. “He invites them down to his place and when they’re down here they like it.”

Andreas said most of the people at the Sea View are close friends. “It’s such a small place we all know each other,” Andreas said. “It’s a homogenous group.”

For more than a week, The Herald tried to contact Dole, Baker, Brinkley and Strauss. None of them returned calls.

It’s not that we’re better,” said Larry Cliff. “We’re different.”

Cliff, general manager of the 212-room hotel, said guests enjoy the European flavor, including chocolate left on top of pillows each evening. Except for the rooms, the hotel hasn’t been remodeled since it opened in 1947.

The grand piano in the lobby is a 110-year-old Chickering with angels painted underneath its lid.

Aside from the decor, the Sea View is a quiet place for the powerful. The hotel’s brochure describes it as “isolated from too-crowded confusion.”

It’s a hotel where the famous can go without being pestered by autograph-seekers, Cliff said.

“Nobody bothers them here,” he said. “The majority of people here are not your transients, in and out. Some stay here as long as two months, three months.”

The lobby of the Sea View, complete with an imposing chandelier several feet from the front door, is calm. Unlike other hotels, few people walk around the lobby.

“It’s a quiet hotel,” said Bal Harbour Police Chief Robert Baquero. “We very rarely get a call there. We had a fire there about a year ago and that was it.”

The entrance to the Sea View is about 300 feet from the street. Someone driving north on Collins Avenue can pass the hotel without ever knowing it is there.

Joe Cela, head of security at the Sea View, boasts of the lack of crime at the hotel. “Nothing has happened in this place for as long as I can remember,” said Cela, who has been at the hotel six years.

Cela is one of several security people who patrol the hotel. His job also includes dealing with Secret Service personnel, who often arrive at the Sea View to look after the powerful.

“I do my thing and they do theirs,” said Cela, who wouldn’t elaborate on what type of security precautions are taken when someone like Dole lounges around the pool.

In some ways, the Sea View is not much different than other hotels. A room for two ranges from $48 to $70 a night during off-season and from $86 to $140 a night during the season. Many European tourists stay at the hotel during the summer.

Unit owners like the Doles don’t actually have a title for their apartments. Instead they own shares in the hotel, which is a corporation.

Dealing with powerful people is nothing new at the Sea View.

“We’ve had top-notch people connected with it for years,” Cliff said. Hubert Humphrey was a regular at the hotel before he died.

Thomas Dewey, former governor of New York and presidential candidate, owned a unit at the Sea View.

The morning of March 16, 1971, Dewey joined Dwayne Andreas and two other friends at the Indian Creek Country Club golf course to shoot a few holes. Dewey played well, the friends later said.

He returned to the Sea View to pack for a trip to Washington.

He was supposed to have dinner with President Richard Nixon at the White House. Instead, Dewey had a heart attack in his seventh-floor apartment at the Sea View. It was in a room at the Sea View that Thomas Dewey spent his last minutes.

Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., squints in the sun as he fields phone calls and relaxes by the pool at the Sea View Hotel in Bal Harbour.
Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., squints in the sun as he fields phone calls and relaxes by the pool at the Sea View Hotel in Bal Harbour.

RELAXING IN BAL HARBOUR

Published April 5, 1996

Bob Dole took the news lying down Thursday when President Clinton signed the Farm Bill.

In fact, when the alleged Unabomber was apprehended Wednesday and the stock market broke new records Tuesday and the baseball season got under way Monday, Bob Dole also took the news lying down.

Well, not always lying down. Sometimes Dole was sitting or standing or striding on the treadmill or cruising the shops in search of lunch or videos to rent.

But the Republican Party’s all-but-anointed presidential nominee, who has spent the week at his Bal Harbour condo, has demonstrated that he is a world-class relaxer.

Here was Thursday’s schedule: “There are no events, no nothing,” said campaign deputy press secretary Christina Martin. On tap for Friday: “Private.”

As duly noted in The New York Times, The Washington Post and on every television network, the Kansas senator is as comfortable in a poolside chaise at the Sea View Hotel as Ronald Reagan was in the saddle or George Bush and Bill Clinton were in Golf Cart One.

His toughest decisions seem to range between dinner at Joe’s Stone Crab or Mark’s Place; a grilled cheese sandwich or bacon, lettuce and tomato.

“He appears to be comfortable just resting and relaxing,” said Rep. Mark Foley, one of the few politicians to spend time with the senator. Foley, a West Palm Beach Republican, accompanied Dole to a private banquet for GOP donors Tuesday night, and he is scheduled to take a helicopter tour of the Everglades with him this morning.

“He’s been reluctant to do much more,” Foley said. “I wanted to take him to a Marlins game, not to throw out a ball, but just to get some sun. But he vetoed that. He doesn’t want to make a splash; he’s an unassuming man, and he just wants private time.”

Dole causes little stir at the Sea View, a dowdy but politically wired Collins Avenue condominium where he and wife Elizabeth have spent winter vacations for 14 years. Although the senator also owns his boyhood home in Russell, Kan., he rents it out, living most of the time in another politically famous building, The Watergate.

Among their Sea View neighbors are billionaire Dwayne O. Andreas, the building’s owner and undisputed czar (he decides who’s in and who’s not); former U.S. Sen. Howard Baker; television personality David Brinkley; and former Democratic Party chief Robert Strauss.

The late House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill lived there, as did Vice President Hubert Humphrey. And ex-New York Gov. Thomas Dewey, defeated for president in 1948, died in his rented apartment at the Sea View in 1971 as he was packing to go visit President Nixon.

In place of the hordes of reporters and cameras that dogged Dole’s steps for the past several weeks in campaign events from Iowa to California, he has been covered by a single network pool crew and a couple of traveling writers scratching for quotes.

Josh Gerstein, a reporter for ABC News, said the Doles created a minor stir Thursday when they emerged from the Sea View after lunch and headed to Surfside to shop.

The news hounds scrambled and, joined by a Miami-based CNN crew, followed the couple as they ambled along the sidewalks. Crowds gathered and motorists stopped.

“For a minute there, it seemed like a bona fide presidential visit,” Gerstein said. “But when we’re hanging out behind the Sea View, it’s a much different feeling.”

For the record, Gerstein said the Doles’ video rentals included The Lion King, Babe, Mr. Saturday Night and The Shawshank Redemption.

Whatever shortcomings the assignment may have in the news department is overcome by the creature comforts. CNN producer Kim Segal, who has followed the campaign for months, said it has been nice “to wake up in the morning and know what city you’re in. Most of the time I have to write it down and keep it by the bed.”

Foley said it’s less important what Dole does on vacation than the fact that he chooses to do it here.

“We’re fortunate to have him here,” Foley said. “It shows his affinity for South Florida, not as a tourist, but as a taxpayer.”

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