Former Washington U.S. Senator remembers 41st president

President George H.W. Bush is being remembered fondly here in Washington state as well.  Former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton served in Congress during much of Bush's tenure.

Indeed, Gorton was elected to the Senate at the same time Bush won the vice presidency as Ronald Reagan's running mate back in 1980.

Incredibly, the entire time Gorton was in Washington, D.C., Bush was near or at the top of political power.

It is easy to hear the deep respect Gorton had for his fellow Republican, the 41st president of the United States.

"Everything he did, he did well," said Gorton. "So you just had to respect him."

Gorton sat in his Clyde Hill home, filled with the pictures that mark his own long political career, including one of him and his wife, Sally; Bush and his wife, Barbara.

"I think this was a vice presidential picture," he said, holding the framed photograph.

Gorton says they weren't friends. But they were friend-ly.  Both men were from privileged backgrounds who lived lives of public service, values passed on by Bush's parents.

"There was a real sense of 'you've been privileged and you've got to share,' " said Gorton,  " 'and how you've got to be as nice as you can to every person that you meet. And check the ego at the door when you're walk into a party.' "

Bush made several visits to the Evergreen state, including this trip to Seattle in 1987 while he was still vice president. He cut the ribbon for the then-new Museum of Flight.

Gorton says Bush's experience in World War II and chief of the CIA contributed to him being an international expert.  If Bush had a failing as president, he says, it was likely in domestic policy.

But the true measure of Bush was the way he lived, even in the face of defeat.

"The fact that when he lost, he lost," said Gorton. "He didn't sulk. As a matter of fact he made a good friend out of President Clinton."

Even political enemies?

"He had opponents," said Gorton, "but he didn't have enemies."

They also shared something more.  They became widowers.  And both men lived into their 90s. Gorton turns 91 next month.

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