Barbara says she first met Senator Brooke at a restaurant in New York City. "We were introduced, and he had this just wonderful grin," she says. "I mean, like a real rascal." During a visit to Washington, D.C., they had lunch in the Senate dining room and discussed her favorite topic—politics. Then, Barbara says he asked her out to dinner and things took a romantic turn.
For the next two years, Barbara and Senator Brooke dated in secret. "You have to remember this was 30 years ago. If this were today, it would be different," she says. "Had this come out, it would have probably, at the time, ruined my career and his."
Though he was married with two children, Barbara says Senator Brooke only went home during the holidays. He spent his weekends in Washington or in New York City with her. "[He and his wife] were not particularly close," she says. "[But] you didn't get divorced in those days."
At the time, Barbara says very few people knew about their relationship. When a gossip columnist began alluding to their affair in the press and a friend warned her that things were getting dangerous, she says she told Senator Brooke she couldn't see him anymore. "[I said to him,] 'I can't do this. We have to break it off,'" she says. "He did something he had never done. He went home and asked his wife for a divorce."