Pete McCloskey, Republican Who Tried to Unseat Nixon, Is Dead at 96

But it was a clear victory for Mr. McCloskey, who said he had unmasked Mr. Robertson as “the fraud he is.” (Mr. Robertson, who quit the presidential race, did serve in Korea, but chiefly as a supply officer far from combat duty.)

Attempting a political comeback in 2006, Mr. McCloskey lost a primary fight against Representative Richard W. Pombo, a seven-term Republican who opposed environmental reforms. Mr. McCloskey, ever the maverick, endorsed the Democrat, Jerry McNerney, in the general election, and Mr. Pombo lost. The next year, at age 79, Mr. McCloskey switched his affiliation to the Democratic Party.

“The new brand of Republicanism,” which he described as hostile to progressive causes, had finally led him to abandon the party he joined in 1948, Mr. McCloskey wrote in a letter to The Tracy Press, a California weekly whose articles and editorials were widely discussed in news and opinion forums in the state.

Mr. McCloskey had lived for many years in Woodside and had a home in Portola Valley, both in the Bay Area, as well as a farm in Rumsey, northwest of Sacramento. He was a trustee for the Monterey Institute of International Studies and led efforts to help veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars receive college educations on their return from duty.

Mr. McCloskey and Helen McCloskey are the subjects of a documentary film, “Helen and the Bear,” released recently by his niece Alix Blair, a filmmaker.

“Just as he lived his life with courage, action, and compassion,” Ms. Blair said in the family statement, “Pete brought those qualities to their marriage. The film is a celebration of his openheartedness.”

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