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Remarks on Plans To Nominate Secretary Kennedy as Ambassador-at-Large and Governor Connally as Secretary of the Treasury

December 14, 1970

Ladies and gentlemen:

Would you please be seated? Again I must say I am sorry we don't have more chairs in this room.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have asked to see you today for the purpose of making an announcement with regard to the Secretary of the Treasury and, also, with regard to the appointment of Ambassador-at-Large, which will be described in just a moment.

When Secretary Kennedy agreed to accept the position of Secretary of the Treasury, he asked that at the end of e years he have the opportunity to leave that position and then perhaps consider another position.

We have been having discussions over the past few days--discussions, of course, on a confidential basis--as to what his plans should be, and discussions with regard to his successor.

Secretary Kennedy has agreed to stay on as Secretary of the Treasury through the budget period and until February i, or whenever the date will be that his successor is confirmed.

It is very important, of course, that his successor in the meantime be immediately designated so that he can participate in the budget decisions, or at least in the process, and be informed of that, and so that there will be no break in the continuity.

Consequently, today I am announcing that the Secretary. of the Treasury, Secretary Kennedy, will resign from that position effective February 1, and I will announce the man who will be designated as Secretary of the Treasury, who will serve and work with the Secretary in the transition period. I will not send the name of the designee to this Congress but to the next Congress when it returns, as I understand, on January 20.

Secretary Kennedy has served this Nation in a selfless and, in my view, admirable and completely devoted way. It seemed to me when we first came in we were having an international monetary crisis about every month. That situation has changed. He has brought stability to our relations internationally, and he has been the top adviser to the President in the field of economic and financial policy.

I am sorry to see him leave as Secretary of the Treasury. His policies are ones that have guided us to this point. His policies are the ones we build on for the future. We are, however, not going to lose him in the Cabinet. He will remain as a member of the President's Cabinet, and the position that he will have in the Government will be in the State Department as Ambassador-at-Large. This position is extremely important in the international field where finance is concerned because we have problems arising with the Common Market; we have problems of multilateral financing.

As you know, the new foreign aid proposals that I have made are ones that will be greatly expanding the multilateral agencies in which the United States participates. Our Ambassador-at-Large will fill a very necessary role in that field as well as in many others.

The Secretary of State is enthusiastically for the designation of Secretary Kennedy in this position, because the State Department has primary responsibilities in the field of international economic policy, and to have a former Secretary of the Treasury in the position of Ambassador-at-Large is, according to the Secretary of State, something that he had never hoped we could have, but that we now have. Secretary Kennedy will be Ambassador and a member of the President's Cabinet after the first of February.

Now, having made that announcement, I would like to have Secretary Rogers please step down--[Laughter]

SECRETARY ROGERS. This has no significance, does it? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. ---and I would like to ask Governor John Connally please to step on the rostrum.

The man that I have asked to serve as Secretary of the Treasury is the former Governor of Texas, John Connally. I have learned to know John Connally over the past 18 months very well. He has been a member of the Ash Council 1 that has made revolutionary recommendations with regard to the reorganization of the Federal Government.

As a result of his work on that Council, we have not only gotten good recommendations but what is most important, we have been able to get a number of them through the Congress. With his support, particularly the fact that he was able to work effectively on the Democratic side of the aisle, as well as on the Republican side of the aisle, we were able to get through proposals that some thought could not be obtained.

In naming him as the new Secretary of the Treasury, I have done so for several reasons:

One, because of the confidence that I have developed in his judgment and his ability and his devotion to this country in these past 18 months working with him on the Ash Council; two, because his experience as Governor of Texas for three terms, one of the major States, gives him special qualifications in the field of revenue sharing, an area in which we are to have some new programs in our new budget, as Secretary Kennedy, of course, is quite aware; and, three, because Governor Connally in the field of finance, while he is not a banker, has a great deal of experience.

He is the head partner of one of the great law firms of the Nation. He is on the board of a number of financial institutions. He is familiar not only with the problems of finance in this country but also has traveled widely abroad and has great experience which he will bring to this position.

Above all, I think what this appointment signifies is something quite fundamental and quite important to this country at this time. We have a Republican President. We have a Democratic Congress. The problems that we face at home and abroad, whether it is a strong national defense, a strong foreign policy, or a strong economy are not Republican problems or Democratic problems. They are American problems.

We need to approach those problems in a bipartisan spirit. John Connally brings into this Cabinet at the very highest level the viewpoint of a very great American, in my opinion, but also he brings the viewpoint of a leading member of the Democratic Party. It means that we will be able to present our programs both at home and abroad, not simply as partisan programs but as programs that both Democrats and Republicans, we believe, can support.

For these reasons, we all believe, we in our Cabinet family, that former Governor Connally will serve admirably in the position of the Secretary of the Treasury and will also render very great service in the broader capacity of making sure that in this critical period in both foreign and domestic policy we have not a partisan but a bipartisan approach to the Nation's problems.

Governor, I can only say to you as I have said to every other designee when I present him, you can speak now to the press, but don't answer any questions because the Senate wants to ask you the questions.

[At this point Mr. Connally spoke. The President then resumed speaking.]

Now, ladies and gentlemen, Secretary Kennedy will have no problems in confirmation. He has been down that road already. However, he, I know, would like to make a statement, or I would like for him to make a statement, about his new position and anything he would like to say about his successor as Secretary of the Treasury.

1 The President's Advisory Council on Executive Organization, under the chairmanship of Roy L. Ash.

Note: The President spoke at 11:25 a.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House.

The remarks of Mr. Connally and Secretary Kennedy are printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 6, p. 1688).

Richard Nixon, Remarks on Plans To Nominate Secretary Kennedy as Ambassador-at-Large and Governor Connally as Secretary of the Treasury Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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