Elizabeth Hanford Dole (born July 29, 1936) was elected to the United States Senate in 2002, to represent North Carolina in a term ending in 2009. She defeated her Democratic opponent Erskine Bowles, a former White House chief of staff for Bill Clinton. The Republican nomination for the seat that she won was made available by the retirement of Jesse Helms.
Born Elizabeth Hanford in Salisbury, North Carolina, she attended Duke University, graduating in 1958 and obtained a master's degree from Harvard University in 1960, and a J.D degree from Harvard Law School in 1965.
She moved to Washington as a Democrat in 1966, working on issues concerning the handicapped. In 1968 she became an independent and worked in the Nixon White House as executive director of the President's Committee for Consumer Interests. Nixon appointed her to a seven-year term on the Federal Trade Commission. In 1975, she became a Republican.
Dole ran for the Republican nomination for candidacy of the US presidential election of 2000, but pulled out of the race in October 1999 before any of the primaries because she could not raise enough money to compete.