Admirers flock to Dole during Kansas homecoming - KCTV5

Admirers flock to Dole during Kansas homecoming

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Kansas political icon Bob Dole has returned to his home state for 10 receptions and open houses over the next three days. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File) Kansas political icon Bob Dole has returned to his home state for 10 receptions and open houses over the next three days. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
OVERLAND PARK, KS (KCTV/AP) -

He's 90 years young, but Kansas icon Bob Dole plans to visit all of the 105 counties in the Sunflower State in 2014.

Dozens of Kansas elected officials and other admirers helped the former Republican presidential candidate kick off a three-day homecoming tour.

The former U.S. Senate majority leader began his "thank you" tour Monday with a reception at the local GOP headquarters in Overland Park. About 75 people attended, including Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-KS.

Dole sat in a cushioned, wing-backed chair as he greeted well-wishers and posed for pictures with them.

While this is Dole's thank you tour, his admirers thanked him for his military service and commitment to Kansas.

"It's the little things that people remember. It's how you treat people and how you expect to be treated," Dole said.

But it was no little thing that Leawood resident Earl Boutell was thanking Dole for. In 1971, Boutell wrote Dole asking for his help in securing a few weeks of leave so that he could be present when his wife gave birth to their only child.

"If it weren't for him, I would have missed her birth," he said. "It changed my life. They told us our life expectancy at the job I had was four months in Vietnam. So I didn't think I'd ever see my daughter. So this was definitely a life-changing experience for me when he got me that leave."

His itinerary included nine other receptions and open houses in northeast Kansas this week.

Dole represented Kansas in Congress from 1961 to 1996, when he left the Senate to run against Democratic President Bill Clinton. His political career began after he overcame disabling combat wounds sustained during World War II.

During his appearances, he did talk some politics. He said healthcare isn't something the federal government should be running.

"Healthcare just isn't something the government can implement and then operate without one disaster after another," he said. "The government can't do it. It's going to be a mess. Look at the post office and how much they're in debt."

Dole didn't take questions from the media.

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