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Archive for Sunday, March 24, 1996

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March 24, 1996

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Senate Majority Leader and Republican presidential hopeful Bob Dole will visit his hometown on Monday.

Russell (ap) -- Bob Dole's sisters were cleaning the family homestead and the championship barbecue team was readying the menu for the GOP presidential candidate's triumphal visit next week.

He's done this before, taking time from a presidential campaign to pay a call on his hometown.

But Monday's visit will be different from the 1976 Russell stop, when he'd just received the Republican vice presidential nomination, or the 1988 rally, when he was announcing his own presidential run.

This time, Dole comes to Russell with enough delegates locked up to give him the nomination.

``It just gives us goosebumps,'' Dole's sister Gloria Nelson said Wednesday as she another sister, Norma Jean Steele, cleaned the family home.

``My sister feels the same way," Nelson said. "We just get beside ourselves. It's very wonderful.''

Family members have seen the Senate majority leader only occasionally since he announced his candidacy last April in Topeka. Dole expects to spend about 30 minutes with his family in the brick house on Maple Street where his late parents, Doran and Bina Dole, reared their four children.

Candidates' schedules can change at a moment's notice, but as of Thursday afternoon, Dole and his daughter, Robyn, were to arrive Monday morning at Hays Airport, then ride to Russell in a motorcade with Gov. Bill Graves and Sen. Nancy Kassebaum. It is not yet known whether Dole's wife, Elizabeth, will be able to attend.

Dole is to speak at a lunch -- free to all Kansans -- outside the VFW Home on Bob Dole Drive at 11:30 a.m. And at 3 p.m., he is to walk down Main Street, visit the location of the former Dawson Drug, where he was a high school soda jerk, and then tour the courthouse, where he spent eight years as county attorney.

About 3,000 guests are expected for the barbecue, part of what's being called a victory rally.

``He's sincere about coming home,'' said Russell Townsley, former newspaper publisher and longtime Dole friend. ``Whatever he is doing, he talks about Russell and he talks about Kansas. It's not a matter of putting on a show to impress the people on the East Coast.''

Ron Bennett, owner of Russell's Log Cabin Inn, will be helped by Bob Bloomer of Osborne and Jack Lee of Wichita -- fellow members of a championship barbecue team -- in preparing bratwurst sandwiches and potato salad for the lunch.

Townsley said Russell as a whole is behind Dole, although some wonder how a Dole victory might affect their way of life.

``I think there's intense pride in Bob Dole,'' Townsley said. ``I think there also are deep-seated concerns about what it would mean to Russell if Bob were elected.''

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