President Bush, Rumsfeld attend the unveiling of Sen. Frist’s portrait

“It takes a really, really good friend to get me to come back to Washington,” Bush joked to the nearly 100 people seated in the Old Senate Chamber.

A career heart surgeon, Frist was elected to the Senate in 1994, and served as majority leader from 2003 until he retired in 2007.

His successor, Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Republicans are headed for a disappointing end to their year in power Obama's HHS secretary could testify in Menendez trial MORE (D-Nev.), often went toe to toe with Frist. But on Wednesday, Reid offered high praise: “I have never served [in Congress] with anyone who cared more about other people than Bill Frist.”

The event was attended by Frist family members, lawmakers and Republican VIPs, including former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former Sens. Fred Thompson (Tenn.), Elizabeth Dole (N.C.) and Norm Coleman (Minn.). ITK spotted at least a dozen Republican senators, as well most of the members of the Tennessee delegation in the House.

In his remarks, Frist made an appeal for more “citizen legislators” in Congress. “We need to encourage [politically inexperienced] people to run for office.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGun proposal picks up GOP support Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform MORE (R-Ky.) delivered a few closing words, after which Frist’s kids pulled back a blue curtain to reveal the portrait by artist Michael Shane Neal. Lots of clapping, as well a few “ahhs,” ensued before guests made their way next door to the Mansfield Room for a swanky reception.