1969: Rumsfeld’s Big Move

Posted September 24, 2004 at 2:12pm

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has a storied history as a member of past and present White House administrations. He served as a counselor to Richard Nixon, as well as ambassador to NATO; chief of staff and secretary of Defense for Gerald Ford; an adviser on arms control and national security to Ronald Reagan; and, of course, his current job.

But before all that, he was a Member of the House, one who stood out for achieving much at an early age. He was the youngest GOP Member of the 89th Congress, and at age 34 he was the youngest appointee to what was then the Select Joint Economic Committee.

And in 1969, he added another notch to his belt when he made his move to the executive branch. Roll Call reported April 24, 1969, that Nixon had selected Rumsfeld to head the Office of Economic Opportunity, a job that came with Cabinet status. Rumsfeld became the youngest member of the Cabinet. His move was seen as a blow to reformers, who counted the Illinois Republican as one of their own.

His move paved the way for a 39-year-old Phil Crane to capture the GOP nomination for the Illinois seat on Oct. 7 and his November election to the House. Crane continues to serve in the House to this day, although some consider him to be somewhat vulnerable this year.[IMGCAP(1)]