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Rumsfeld Remembers Ford as Patriot Who Restored Confidence

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27, 2006 – Former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld remembered the late President Gerald R. Ford as a patriot who led the United States through difficult days and helped restore confidence in its government.

“President Ford was a man of great decency and towering integrity,” Rumsfeld said in a written statement released today.

Ford died last night in Rancho Mirage, Calif., at age 93. Rumsfeld served in Ford’s Cabinet, as chief of staff from 1974 to 1975, then as the youngest U.S. defense secretary from 1975 to 1977.

Rumsfeld called Ford a patriot who left a budding law career to join the Navy in World War II, then demonstrated a deep pride in the country and respect for its government while serving in the U.S. Congress.

Rumsfeld’s long association with the former president dates back to the 1960s, when both served in the U.S. House of Representatives. While serving as U.S. ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1974, Rumsfeld was called back to Washington to serve as chairman of Ford’s presidential transition team.

“Our nation has a way of finding leaders that are needed in tough times,” Rumsfeld said.

Rumsfeld called Ford “just the president our country needed back in 1974.” He remembered the former president as a serious, effective legislator who never sought the presidency but was ready to serve as vice president, then president, when the country needed him.

“He became president in a time of widespread distrust of government and those who governed,” Rumsfeld said. “As president, his personal character helped restore the reservoir of trust in the government and its leaders that is needed for our system to function effectively.”

Ford did so, Rumsfeld said, “by being who he was and always doing what he believed was in the best interest of our country and the American people.”

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