From left: Elizabeth and Bob Dole in 2009
Paul Morigi/WireImage

Bob didn't ask out his future until the third time they talked on the phone — which Elizabeth told Today only made her like him more

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February 13, 2019 10:13 AM

Did either Bob or Elizabeth Dole, both former senators, know that their first meeting more than 40 years ago would be the start of an enduring love story?

In an appearance on the Today show Wednesday morning, the couple looked back on their more than 43 years together in an exclusive interview with host Savannah Guthrie.

Bob, 95, who was a Kansas senator from 1969 to 1996, and 82-year-old Elizabeth who served as a North Carolina Senator from 2003 to 2009, met in 1972 during a meeting at his office.

“All of a sudden, the side door opens and in comes Bob Dole. And I look up and I think, ‘Gee, he’s a good-looking guy,’ ” recalled Elizabeth of seeing her husband, then a rising Republican star, for the first time. “And he says he wrote my name on the back of his blotter.”

Bob didn’t ask her out until the third time they talked on the phone — which Elizabeth said only made her like him more.

“I really liked that a lot, because I realized he’s not some guy chasing women around Capitol Hill,” she said.

 “I never did that,” Bob chimed in. “Couldn’t catch ’em anyway.”

As she told PEOPLE in 1976 of their 18-month courtship, “I was having too good a time.” The couple even lived near one another in Watergate apartments for a time before she moved in with him and rented out her own place.

RELATED: Former Sen. Bob Dole, 95, Helped Out of Wheelchair to Salute Casket of Former Opponent George H.W. Bush

From left: Elizabeth and Bob Dole on their wedding day in December 1975
Consolidated News Pictures/Getty

“Believe it or not,” the pair, who tied the knot in 1975, have never had a “serious argument” in all their years of marriage, Elizabeth said on Today.

“I love his compassionate heart,” she told Guthrie. “And the fact that he loved to feel that each day he could make a difference for at least one person in need. And I loved the fact that he had such a great sense of humor.”

Bob went on to become the 1996 Republican presidential nominee before losing the general election to then-President Bill Clinton. Elizabeth also ran for president, in 2000, but she dropped out before any campaign primaries.

During their Wednesday Today interview, the couple spoke out about balancing their political careers and their relationship.  Elizabeth said that she had received criticism for pausing her own political career to support her husband while he campaigned.

RELATED: Bob Dole on Healing Moment He Saluted Bush’s Casket: ‘My Subconscious Was Moving My Left Arm’

“Some of the women’s organizations really chastised me at the time and said, ‘Why are you doing this? You’re giving up your career,’ ” she said. “My response was, ‘Because this is my choice. This is what I choose to do.’ “

Elizabeth and Bob also shared some advice for younger couples, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

“You need to focus on your partner’s interest, not your own, but what she or he may be doing or may have done that you can talk about,” Bob said.

“Stay attuned to your spouse’s particular likes, things that turn him on,” Elizabeth added. “What does he like, you know? And then plan some great surprises.”

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