Donald Rumsfeld

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Donald Rumsfeld : biography

July 9, 1932 –

Rumsfeld briefly sought the Presidential nomination in 1988, but withdrew from the race before primaries began. During the 1996 election he initially formed a presidential exploratory committee, but declined to formally enter the race. He was instead named national chairman for Republican nominee Bob Dole’s campaign."Dole-Kemp Campaign names former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as its national chairman," Press Release by Dole-Kemp 1996, August 27, 1996

Career in government (1962–1977)

Member of Congress

In 1957, during the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration, Rumsfeld served as Administrative Assistant to David S. Dennison, Jr., a Congressman representing the 11th district of Ohio. In 1959, he moved on to become a staff assistant to Congressman Robert P. Griffin of Michigan. on Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Accessed April 22, 2007. Engaging in a two-year stint with an investment banking firm, A. G. Becker, from 1960 to 1962, biography from the Associated Press. Accessed April 22, 2007. Rumsfeld would instead set his sights on becoming a member of Congress.

He was elected to the United States House of Representatives for Illinois’ 13th congressional district in 1962, at the age of 30, and was re-elected by large majorities in 1964, 1966, and 1968. biography from Whitehouse.gov. Accessed April 22, 2007. While in Congress, he served on the Joint Economic Committee, the Committee on Science and Aeronautics, and the Government Operations Committee, as well as on the Subcommittees on Military and Foreign Operations. He was also a co-founder of the Japanese-American Inter-Parliamentary Council biography from White House press release dated November 3, 1975. Accessed April 22, 2007. in addition to being a leading cosponsor of the Freedom of Information Act.

As a young Congressman, Rumsfeld attended seminars at the University of Chicago, an experience he credits with introducing him to the idea of an all volunteer military, and to the economist Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics. He would later take part in Friedman’s PBS series Free to Choose.

Nixon Administration

Rumsfeld resigned from Congress in 1969 — his fourth term — to serve President Richard Nixon in his administration, and he would serve in a variety of executive branch positions throughout the Nixon presidency. In 1969, Nixon sought to reform and reorganize the United States Office of Economic Opportunity, an organization created during the Kennedy administration and greatly expanded as a part of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs, rather than eliminate it outright. He appointed Rumsfeld Director of the organization. Rumsfeld had voted against the creation of OEO when he was in Congress, and initially rejected Nixon’s offer, citing his own inherent belief that the OEO did more harm than good, and he felt that he was not the right person for the job.Rumsfeld, Donald (2011), pp. 119–121 He only accepted after a personal plea from the president.

While Director of OEO, Rumsfeld sought to reorganize OEO to serve as "a laboratory for experimental programs."Rumsfeld, Donald (2011), p. 125 Several beneficial anti-poverty programs were saved by allocating funds to them from other less-successful government programs. During this time, he hired Frank Carlucci and Dick Cheney to serve under him.

He was the subject of one of legendary writer Jack Anderson’s columns, alleging that "anti-poverty czar" Rumsfeld had cut programs to aid the poor while spending thousands to redecorate his office. Rumsfeld dictated a four page response to Anderson, labeling the accusations as falsehoods, and invited Anderson to tour his office. Despite the tour, Anderson did not retract his claims, and would only later admit that his column was a mistake.

When he left OEO in December 1970, Nixon named Rumsfeld Counsellor to the President, a general advisory position that earned him Cabinet-status.Graham, By His Own Rules p 75 He was given an office in the West Wing and now regularly interacted with the Nixon administration hierarchy. He was named Director of the Economic Stabilization Program in 1970 as well, and headed up the Cost of Living Council. In 1971 Nixon was recorded saying about Rumsfeld "at least Rummy is tough enough" and "He’s a ruthless little bastard. You can be sure of that."Alexander Cockburn, Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy, Simon and Schuster, 2007, page 20Craig Unger, The Fall of the House of Bush: The Untold Story of how a Band of True Believers Seized the Executive Branch, Started the Iraq War, and Still Imperils America’s Future, Simon and Schuster, 2007, page 50Craig Unger, American Armageddon: How the Delusions of the Neoconservatives and the Christian Right Triggered the Descent of America—and Still Imperil Our Future, Simon and Schuster, 2008, page 50Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt, 2007