A crowd of political officials, community members and friends gathered Tuesday in the Kansas Sports Museum in Newton to visit with Bob Dole, a former Senator and presidential nominee known on both a state and national level.

However, the evening was designed to be more personal than political, and the former senator spent much of the time talking individually with constituents and thanking them for allowing him to serve.

"He's really enthused about this series of trips," said press secretary Marion Watkins. "He's just been welcomed with open arms by everyone — really a warm welcome home."

Dole also had scheduled stops that day in other parts of Kansas, including Salina and McPherson.

"We were honored that the senator made it to Harvey County and Newton," said Jason Mitchell, chair of the Harvey County Republican Party. "We appreciate all his service to the state and to the country."

Dole, who is a World War II vet, talked about the importance of caring for wounded veterans and their families, and he honored several veterans who had come to the museum to meet him. He told the audience it was important to not forget the veterans who have served.

"We promised them when they wore the uniform, we would take care of them when they came home," he said. "In some cases, I think we've let them down."

During the question and answer portion of the visit, several attendees shared about their personal connections to Dole, including some who had served as interns for his office and talked about how the experience had helped them in their careers.

Harvey County Commissioner Chip Westfall also had a personal story to share about being a part of the former senator's highway patrol detail. He complimented the senator on his good sense of humor and skills as a storyteller.

"It was a great honor to serve you and protect you," Westfall said. "Thank you, Senator."