David S. Broder, one of the nation’s leading political reporters and a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1973 for distinguished commentary about the Watergate scandal, has died. He was 81.

Broder, a longtime columnist at the Washington Post, died Wednesday at Capital Hospice in Arlington, Va., from complications of diabetes.

Born Sept. 11, 1929, in Chicago Heights, Ill., where his father was a dentist, David Salzer Broder entered the University of Chicago at 15 and received bachelor’s and master’s degrees there. After service in the Army, he began his newspaper career at the Bloomington, Ill., Pantagraph. He was hired as a reporter in 1955 by Congressional Quarterly in Washington and later by the Washington Star. In 1965, he joined the New York Times but left after less than two years, turned off by constant squabbles between the paper’s editors in New York and Washington.

When he joined the Washington Post in 1966, he became “the first top-rank reporter ever to quit the Times for the Post,” legendary Post Editor Benjamin Bradlee wrote in a 1995 memoir. “I romanced him like he’s never been romanced — in coffee shops, not fancy French restaurants, because Broder was a coffee-shop kind of man: straightforward, no frills, all business.”

Broder is survived by his wife of 59 years, Ann, their four sons and seven grandchildren. He lived in Arlington, Va., and had a summer cabin on Beaver Island in Lake Michigan.

In a statement, President Obama described Broder as “the most respected and incisive political commentator of his generation.”