Political commentator Bruce Herschensohn, a longtime fixture on Southern California television and radio, former aide to Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan and Republican candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in 1992, has died at the age of 88.
Herschensohn’s death was announced Tuesday by the Richard Nixon Foundation in Yorba Linda. The cause of death was not released.
“One word defines Bruce Herschensohn: patriot,” said Hugh Hewitt, the Nixon Foundation’s president. “A resonant, mellifluous voice for freedom, he was always calm, always insistent on the truth that people needed to be free, wanted to be free and would be free. Though he’s no longer with us, his role as freedom’s champion will live on through his films, his writings and his students.”
Herschensohn was a familiar face on Southland TV screens in the 1980s and early ’90s, appearing as a political commentator on ABC7, where he filled the conservative half of “point/counterpoint” segment alongside former Democratic Senator John Tunney. He also served as a commentator for KABC-Radio and was a prolific columnist for newspaper opinion pages.
Born in Milwaukee, Herschensohn served in the U.S. Air Force as a young man and worked for RKO Radio Pictures. He was later appointed director of motion pictures and television for the United States Information Agency, a Cold War-era public relations agency run by the U.S. government.
He was appointed deputy special assistant to President Nixon in 1972 and served until Nixon’s resignation two years later. In 1980, Herschensohn worked for Reagan’s transition team.
He sought the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 1986, hoping to run against Democrat Alan Cranston, but lost to Ed Zschau, who in turn lost to Cranston. Six years later, Herschensohn captured the GOP nomination in a close race against Rep. Tom Campbell, a more politically moderate Republican. Cranston had retired, pitting Herschensohn against Democrat Barbara Boxer. He lost a competitive race, getting 4,644,182 votes to Boxer’s 5,173,467.
After that disappointment, Herschensohn returned to teaching, delivering commentary and working as a Distinguished Fellow at the Claremont Institute in Upland.
Herschensohn also taught foreign policy as the Nixon Chair at Whittier College, where the former president attended college.
Ken Khachigian, a former speech writer for President Reagan, paid tribute to Herschensohn’s loyalty.
“Some individuals deserve to have dictionary words bestowed upon them in life. For Bruce Herschensohn, `loyalty’ stands out,” Khachigian said in a statement. “Once Bruce became your friend and ally, he never left your side — never. His loyalty to country, to principles, to comrades and to ideals never wavered, never waned. President Nixon had the highest of respect for Bruce, but, even more, also spoke of his steadfast sense of honor and duty. When he spoke of Bruce, it was always with warmest words of affection.”
The Pepperdine School of Public Policy in Malibu, where Herschensohn was once chairman of the board and a senior fellow in the school of public policy, posted the following remembrance on its Facebook page Tuesday:
“A great patriot and public servant, Bruce taught at SPP for more than a decade and regularly lectured on a variety of foreign policy topics. His involvement at Pepperdine University goes back decades, and he can be truly considered one of our “Founding Fathers.” We will miss you, Bruce!”