The New York Post's Washington bureau chief, Deborah Orin-Eilbeck, died Sunday of cancer at age 59.

Orin-Eilbeck, who died at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, started her career at the Post in 1977 after working for a Long Island newspaper, newspaper spokesman Howard Rubenstein said. She was named Washington bureau chief in 1988.

President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, said they were saddened to learn of Orin-Eilbeck's death. They noted in a statement Sunday that Orin-Eilbeck had covered every presidential campaign since 1980.

"Deb had a distinguished, decades-long career as a journalist," the Bushes' statement said. "Deb fought a valiant battle against cancer with the same tenacity, devotion and determination that she brought to her work in the White House briefing room through numerous administrations.

"She will be missed by all of us at the White House who cared deeply for her."

Orin-Eilbeck, a native New Yorker, graduated with honors from Harvard University. She received a master's degree from Northwestern University, Rubenstein said. She attended the schools on scholarships, he said.

Orin-Eilbeck, who was fluent in French, also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, he said.

She was a gourmet cook and an avid gardener and was passionate about politics.

Post Editor-in-Chief Col Allan described Orin-Eilbeck as "one of the nation's finest political reporters."

"She was never part of press group think that so often rules Washington," Allan said in a statement issued through Rubenstein. "Common sense ruled her mind, not dogma. I will miss her advice, and the Post readers will miss her honesty and wisdom."

Orin-Eilbeck is survived by her husband, Neville Eilbeck, her father, Aaron Slotkin, and her brother, Mark Slotkin.

No information about burial arrangements was immediately available.