Ex-Rep. Charles Sandman, Staunch Defender Of Nixon, Dies At 63
CAPE MAY COURTHOUSE, N.J. (AP) _ Superior Court Judge Charles W. Sandman, a former Republican congressman who staunchly supported President Richard Nixon during the Watergate impeachment hearings, died Monday at the age of 63.
Sandman suffered a stroke on Aug. 18 and had been hospitalized since then at Burdette Tomlin Memorial Hospital, where a spokeswoman said he died at 11:45 a.m.
Sandman, also an unsuccessful Republican gubernatorial nominee in 1973, lost his House seat in 1974 in the post-Watergate Democratic landslide.
The conservative congressman gained national attention on the House Judiciary Committee earlier in 1974 when he defended Nixon during the televised impeachment proceedings.
He said later in interviews that his support of Nixon stemmed not from friendship but from his view that the hearings were unconstitutional. He contended there was no concrete evidence presented to warrant the proceedings.
Sandman supported Nixon until the court-ordered release of the Watergate tapes, which indicated the president knew about the coverup of the burglary of the Democratic party headquarters.
He said in a 1975 interview that he was not bitter following Watergate but felt he was betrayed by Nixon, who did not tell him about the existence of the tapes.
He also said he realized his vote against impeachment would not save Nixon and probably would shatter his political career. In November 1974, he lost the congressional seat he had held since 1966, and did not even carry his home county in southern New Jersey.
″Sure, I’d do it all over again. I’d have to, given the same circumstances,′ ′ he said in the interview.
After losing his congressional seat, Sandman became a businessman.
In one unsuccessful venture, he tried to team up with boxer Muhammed Ali to launch a burger and chicken restaurant chain in black neighborhoods of large cities.
Of the unusual alliance between a Vietnam War hawk and a conscientious objector, Sandman said, ″Ideology has nothing to do with it; We’re going to make money.″
Gov. Thomas H. Kean appointed Sandman to a seven-year term on the Superior Court bench last year. He was chief judge of the family court in Cape May County.
A former state Senator, he served as president of the Legislature’s upper house 1964 and 1965.
In the 1973 Republican gubernatorial primary, Sandman upset Gov. William Cahill. But in the general election, he lost by a wide margin to Democrat Brendan Byrne.
Kean, also a Republican, praised Sandman on Monday as a ″man of warmth, compassion and unfailing good humor.″
″But above all, he was a dedicated public servant who worked tirelessly toward improving the quality of life for all people,″ said Kean. ″He served his state and his nation admirably and with openess and candor.″