By Imtiaz Tyab
BBC News, Washington
Safire was an outspoken conservative on the liberal New York Times
William Safire, the Pulitzer Prize-winning political columnist for the New York Times, has died of cancer at the age of 79.
Safire also worked as speechwriter and aide to President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal that ultimately drove him from office in 1974.
For the last 30 years of his life, he was best known for his famous New York Times magazine column "On Language".
Safire is survived by his wife and two children.
Born in New York in 1929, Safire worked as a journalist and in public relations before serving as a special assistant to President Nixon during the 1970s.
The former college dropout set up what became known as the "kitchen debate" meeting between Nixon and the former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.
He oversaw Nixon's visit to China and the gathering storm of the Watergate scandal that ended his presidency in disgrace.
William Safire joined The New York Times as a Washington-based columnist in 1973 and won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary five years later.
He published numerous books on writing and language. His most recent, How Not to Write: The Essential Misrules of Grammar, was published in 2005.