updated 7/2/2009 8:30:25 PM ET 2009-07-03T00:30:25

Herbert G. Klein, Richard Nixon's ex-White House director of communications and a former editor for Copley Newspapers, has died. He was 91.

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Klein died Thursday after suffering a cardiac arrest at his home in the San Diego suburb of La Jolla, family members told the Union-Tribune.

Klein became a special correspondent for Copley after serving with the Navy in World War II. He covered Nixon's 1946 congressional campaign for Copley, starting an association that would eventually lead him to the White House.

Klein accompanied Vice President Nixon to Moscow in 1959 for historic meetings with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. The next year, he represented Nixon in setting the terms for his debate with John F. Kennedy — the first televised debates between presidential candidates.

Klein resigned as Nixon's communications director in 1973, one year before the Watergate scandal forced the president to step down.

He later joined Metromedia Inc., a national non-network broadcasting group. In 1980, he went back to Copley Newspapers as editor in chief. He helped guide the chain's editorial positions, while maintaining contacts in politics and sports. He served a combined 52 years with Copley.

Klein was Nixon's press secretary in three campaigns: the unsuccessful 1960 run for the White House, the 1962 race for California's governorship and his second presidential bid in 1968.

Klein is survived by a brother, daughter, three grandsons, and two great-grandsons.

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