'President's man' dies at 67

Click to follow
BOB HALDEMAN, President Nixon's former chief of staff, who was jailed for 18 months after the Watergate scandal, died yesterday at the age of 67 in California. A spokesman for the coroner in Santa Barbara, where Haldeman lived, said he had been ill for several weeks and apparently died in his sleep. Haldeman's son said an abdominal tumour was the cause of death.

Haldeman was Mr Nixon's powerful lieutenant in the White House and his crewcut figure came to symbolise, almost as much as Mr Nixon himself, the arbitrary use of power in Washington.

Mr Nixon said yesterday: 'Ever since he joined my vice-presidential staff as a young advance man in the 1956 election, I have known Bob Haldeman to be a man of rare intelligence, strength, integrity and courage.' Haldeman, a former advertising man from California, said he had no real interest in politics before joining the Nixon campaign.

As the Nixon administration dissolved under the impact of successive disclosures about its attempts to cover-up the break-in at Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate, Haldeman was forced to resign. He was later convicted of obstructing justice and telling lies to the FBI for which he was given two and a half to 8 years in prison.

As President Nixon's chief of staff from 1968-73 Haldeman controlled access to him. The only staff member with comparable power was John Mitchell, the attorney-general. 'We had a strong tight-knit team,' Haldeman later recalled. Mr Nixon's daughter said: 'My father wanted Bob Haldeman to be the sole conduit to him.'

Although ostensibly powerful, Haldeman's authority ultimately depended on being an extension of President Nixon's personality. He revelled in his job as an all-powerful menial saying: 'I'm his buffer and I'm his bastard. I get done what he wants done and I take the heat instead of him.'

Haldeman played a central role in the Watergate cover-up. He also controlled a dollars 350,000 slush fund, part of which was used to pay some of the Watergate burglars. After serving his jail sentence he remained friends with President Nixon, though he claimed in his book that he was 'no worshiper of Richard Nixon'.