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Remarks Announcing the Nomination of Representative Donald Rumsfeld as Director, Office of Economic Opportunity

April 21, 1969

Ladies and gentlemen:

I have an announcement to make today that has already been, as usual, anticipated by the press.

As Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, I am naming Don Rumsfeld, Congressman from Illinois. This, of course, is subject to Senate confirmation. We expect, however, no troubles in the Senate in getting confirmation.

A release has already been given to the members of the press giving the background with regard to Congressman Rumsfeld's appointment, how it is worked out logistically and the like.

I will summarize it briefly in this way: He will have as his primary responsibility that of running the Office of Economic Opportunity as Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity. He will have, also, the rank of Assistant to the President and he will have Cabinet rank.

He will be a member of the Urban Affairs Council, of which Mr. [Daniel P.] Moynihan is the Director.

All of these responsibilities, I think, fit into the decision that Mr. Rumsfeld has made.

I was saying to him in our meeting in the office just before coming in here, that I remember when I was his age, 36 years of age, in 1949, I made the hardest political decision of my life. That decision was to give up a safe seat in the Congress--I had won both nominations in the election immediately preceding--and to run for the Senate.

Don Rumsfeld, today, is "crossing the Rubicon" to an extent. He is making what, for him, may have been his hardest and most important political decision. He is giving up one of the safest seats in the Congress of the United States to take on one of the most important agencies, one of the most controversial agencies in the entire Government.

This, to me, displays unusual courage, and it is an indication of his great dedication to this problem, the problem of finding the answers to poverty in America.

Don Rumsfeld in the Congress specialized in this problem and now he will have the opportunity to operate--operate at the very highest level in helping to solve the problem.

The fact--and I think the singular fact--that he was willing to give up a seat in the Congress to assume this responsibility gives great promise to what he will be able to do.

In my view, despite his relatively young years, he has the experience, he has the judgment, but as he has demonstrated by this decision, he has the courage to handle this immensely important assignment.

I am very happy to present him to the members of the press. You will be seeing him quite often in the years ahead.

He will speak briefly to you now and answer questions before going down for his Senate confirmation later in the week.

Note: The President spoke at 9:42 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House.

Statements by the President and Representative Rumsfeld are printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 5, pp. 585 and 586). Also released was the transcript of a news conference held by Mr. Rumsfeld following his statement.

Richard Nixon, Remarks Announcing the Nomination of Representative Donald Rumsfeld as Director, Office of Economic Opportunity Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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