Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks at the Swearing In of Donald H. Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense

November 20, 1975

Thank you very, very much, Mr. Clements. Secretary-designate Rumsfeld, Mrs. Rumsfeld, Mr. Justice Stewart, the Vice President, General Brown, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

We are assembled here today to swear in as the Secretary of Defense one of the most dedicated, talented, and capable public servants it has been my privilege to know in 27 years of public life.

A friend once asked him to give a thumbnail description of Don Rumsfeld's work pattern, and he said it could be summed up in two very simple statements: One, Don works at a stand-up desk. And two, his staff does not work at stand-up desks--but they do very little sitting down.

Don Rumsfeld, in a series of challenging legislative and administrative capacities, has demonstrated beyond question his ability to grasp the complexity of issues and organizations, to work tirelessly and effectively at whatever task may engage him, and to serve his country faithfully and well.

As a Member of Congress from Illinois, he demonstrated a unique talent for staying in tune with the will of the people that he served, for representing their interests with fidelity and with courage, and for winning the confidence and respect of his fellow Members of the Congress.

As head of the Office of Economic Opportunity and later as Director of the Cost of Living Council, he exhibited the organizational and leadership abilities which have characterized his career in public service.

In these varied posts, he has also shown great awareness of and compassion for the social and economic needs of our Nation. That awareness and that compassion accompany him here.

As the United States Ambassador to NATO, he demonstrated a strong commitment to a strong defense for America and our allies in Western Europe. His service as Ambassador was distinguished by a strengthening of the commitment to Atlantic security and by his own diplomatic skills, which he successfully employed in a very sensitive and a very important post.

As my Assistant at the White House, he has shown that he is a man of near inexhaustible energy, a man who takes charge of a situation very quickly, forcefully, and efficiently, and a man with a wide variety of gifts and interests and expertise.

Don Rumsfeld knows, as I know, that a strong national defense for America is the surest guardian of our Nation's independence and peace throughout the world. He knows, as I know, as everyone in this Administration knows, that it is the certainty of America's military strength that makes possible our negotiations for peaceful cooperation with other great powers of the world. He knows, as I know, that the price of that strength and security is high, but it is a price that must be paid, for the price is never greater than the worth of a strong defense.

You all know where I stand on defense. All of those who say they are for a strong defense and a strong foreign policy should join with me, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of State to maintain adequate defense budgets in the Congress.

As I have said before, a military capability second to none permits us to act firmly and successfully in foreign policy around the world and in defense of our national interest.

As Don begins his new duties and assumes this new challenge, he does so with my personal best wishes and my thanks for accepting a very difficult and demanding assignment. Don Rumsfeld has my complete confidence and trust. He will earn that of the Nation and the Department of Defense because he will do a superb job as our new Secretary of Defense.

It is my pleasure to introduce for swearing in by Mr. Justice Stewart the 13th Secretary of Defense-designate, the Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Note: The President spoke at ll:10 a.m. at the River Entrance of the Department of Defense. Potter Stewart, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, administered the oath of office.

In his opening remarks, the President referred to William P. Clements, Jr., Deputy Secretary of Defense, and Gen. George S. Brown, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Secretary Rumsfeld's response to the President's remarks is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 11, p. 1304).

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks at the Swearing In of Donald H. Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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