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One of the themes in George Gorton’s life that we saw rise pretty quickly was his affinity for women. He’s been married three times and has been in a lot of serious relationships. “Most of the women I’ve dated are very bright, powerful, strong,” Gorton told us. “I like them to be pretty, too. I’m very proud of the women I’ve gone with.”

One of his chief examples from the devastation in his life after Watergate was the shift from “dating really gorgeous girls to not being able to get a date with not-so-gorgeous girls.”

(We discussed his romantic leanings further in this sidebar to the second part of the story.)

Along those lines, we heard this question this morning:

Does Kelly have theories about why he’s such a lady magnet? I’ll bet some readers would like to know 🙂 …  he’s seriously been monogamous all these years? Hard to believe.

I don’t know if I have any specific theories, but I did have many conversations with Gorton’s lady-friends from over the years to report the story. One thread I found common was an immediate attraction.

Here’s Cathy Bertini, the woman he dated across campaign lines in 1970 in New York, on her first meeting with Gorton in a school cafeteria:

He walked in, and first of all, he was very attractive. You met him, he’s still attractive. He’s got on a jacket and tie, on campus in 1970.

And Terry Barlin, who would become his second wife, on meeting Gorton at Election Central in 1983:

Not only was he one of cutest guys I had ever seen but he was also one of the most immediately provocative — he’s such a deep person.

Here’s Susan Golding, whom Gorton met in the late 1970s on a Wilson campaign:

He struck me as a very interesting, very alive, charming person. I’m attracted to strong, interesting people and George was definitely that.

And Kiki Holzen, Gorton’s third wife:

There was 22 years age difference — even to this day that doesn’t even seem to be a factor. He has such a fun-loving, young spirit. … He was easy to fall in love with, and I haven’t fallen out yet.

As for the monogamy question: At about the same time he started dating his second wife, Terry Barlin, Gorton was dating another woman. He and Barlin broke up and he got engaged to this other woman, Wendy. Barlin didn’t want to let him go, he broke up with Wendy, and married Barlin eventually.

Having more than one girl on his arm was “not usually my MO,” he said.

“Serial monogamy is a great thing,” he said. “I usually am with a woman for four years except if we’re married. Then it’s seven years.”

On the personal level, there was one instance that drove home for us how flirtatious the 61-year-old Gorton remains. In our second interview with Gorton, I was trying to get the romantic chronology straight. We talked through the various women, and I had one more question when we got to the end.

“So, are you dating anyone now?” I asked.

Gorton paused for a minute.

“Well, you’re a little young for me,” he said wryly.

“It’s not a proposition, George, it’s a question for my story,” I fired back.

“I know, but you’re cute.”

KELLY BENNETT

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