Bob Dole sat down with Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace for an exclusive interview. The once-leading Republican in the Senate has been out of office for 17 years, but Dole still has a lot to say about politicians these days.

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The failure of today’s government to solve America’s problems is “almost unreal,” Dole said. “We weren’t perfect by a long shot but at least we got our work done.”

He criticized the Republican Party, saying, “I think they ought to put a sign on the national committee doors that says closed for repairs until New Year’s Day next year and spend that time going over ideas and positive agendas.”

President Obama’s biggest mistake, according to Dole, was not reaching out to Congress early on in his first term. “There’s nothing like knowing the person they’re talking to on the telephone.”

It’s not just politicians who are at fault for failing to compromise. Dole called out Americans for being unwilling to cut programs that serve their own interests.

On why he was successful at working out deals in Congress, Dole said it’s because as a leader, he stepped up to take responsibility. “There’s a penalty for leadership, and one is you take a lot of heat.”

He said Republicans like Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and even himself couldn’t make it in today’s GOP. “I just consider myself a Republican. None of this hyphenated stuff. I was a mainstream conservative Republican.”

How will Bob Dole be remembered? It’s clear what Dole cherishes the most when he answers: “Veteran who gave his most for his country.”

The World War II veteran said the experience changed his life. Dole’s injury in the war left him hospitalized for three years and his right arm permanently disabled. During that time, he said, “I think I learned a lot about patience. Some things take a long time. […] I like to get things done yesterday. But I learned in the hospital, that’s not possible.”

“I’ve never tried to use my disability, but I can’t hide it. You know, I’ve gone through the bitter stage where you kind of feel sorry for yourself but then you look around and find somebody who’s in real trouble.”

Dole still visits with WWII veterans and spoke about their resilience. “These guys don’t give up.”