updated 6/14/2004 8:28:07 PM ET 2004-06-15T00:28:07

Robert Teeter, an influential Republican pollster who was a longtime member of former President George H.W. Bush’s campaign brain trust, has died after a battle with cancer. He was 65.

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Teeter died Sunday night at his home in Ann Arbor, his company said Monday.

“Although he worked with four presidents and innumerable senators and governors, he never lost the values and the standards that he grew up with,” said Democratic pollster Peter Hart, a friend for 30 years. “He represented core American values.”

Teeter was president of Market Opinion Research before forming his current consulting and research firm, Ann Arbor-based Coldwater Corp. He also conducted a national polling program for NBC News and The Wall Street Journal together with Hart.

“He was a remarkable professional,” Hart said. “Bob Teeter was one of the rare individuals who not only understood the rough and tumble of politics, but, more importantly, understood the stakes for a democratic system.”

(MSNBC is a joint venture of NBC and Microsoft.)

Long a player in GOP
Teeter played an important role in politics over the last 30 years, working with Republican presidents beginning with Richard Nixon and serving as national chairman for Bush’s unsuccessful 1992 re-election campaign.

He also handled polling for Bush in his 1980 presidential run and was a top adviser in the 1988 campaign that won him the White House. More recently, Teeter was involved in the discussions that led to Dick Cheney’s becoming Texas Gov. George W. Bush’s running mate in 2000.

Former Secretary of State James Baker, who recalled fly fishing trips with Teeter and each of their sons, called Teeter’s death “a great loss” for politics.

Karl Rove, President Bush’s chief political strategist, said he had known Teeter for 20 years. “He was a really gentle soul and a really kind heart. Such obvious and complete integrity that you trusted him right from the beginning. He was always an astute observer of politics.”

Baker said Teeter was instrumental in bringing him in to national politics during President Gerald Ford’s 1976 campaign. Teeter and Cheney, Ford’s chief of staff, together brought Baker in as chairman of Ford’s campaign, Baker said.

Teeter remained close to Bush during his years as vice president under President Ronald Reagan, but he rejected an offer of a White House job after the 1988 election.

Despite Teeter’s success as a pollster, the 1992 Bush campaign that he ran was criticized at times as lacking leadership. The campaign underestimated the insurgent candidacy of Pat Buchanan during the early primaries and went on to lose to Bill Clinton.

Teeter is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and their two children.

A memorial service is scheduled for Friday at First Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor. A private burial will be held Saturday in Coldwater, Teeter’s hometown.

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