Remarks Announcing the Resignation of James A. Baker III as Secretary of the Treasury and the Nomination of Nicholas F. Brady

 

August 5, 1988

 

The President. Well, as Jim Baker would say, ``It's finally a done deal.'' I say so long, but not goodbye, to a friend today. I've accepted with regret the resignation of James A. Baker III as Secretary of the Treasury. And I'm announcing that I intend to nominate in his place Nicholas F. Brady.

 

The changes we brought about in America required the dedication and hard work of a massive team of people. But Jim Baker has helped lead the charge since he strode into my campaign in his cowboy boots in the summer of 1980. He's taken his licks and earned his stripes. And, Jim, if there ever was a Reaganite, you're it.

 

Jim's management, organization, and savvy were essential to the enormous success of the 1980 campaign. As Chief of Staff throughout my first term, those same skills were turned to governing. He was at my side as we delivered on our promises to the people: cutting and reforming taxes, reducing regulations, restraining the growth of spending, rebuilding America's defenses, and becoming once again a proud force for freedom around the world. Jim managed the legislative process that produced, among other victories, the historic Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 and the Social Security Compromise of 1983 that rescued the system.

 

As Treasury Secretary, Jim ushered in the tax reform everyone had said was impossible. He brought about a new and better system of international economic policy coordination and led the effort to achieve a free trade agreement between the United States and Canada.

 

Jim is leaving to become chairman of George Bush's Presidential campaign. And as you go, let me tell you this: You're a friend whom I will miss. You've been a secret of our success. Now, Jim, go do it for George.

 

And I'm pleased to be able to announce that I will nominate such an able successor as Nick Brady. Nick has answered my call 5 times before. He also served as the United States Senator from New Jersey and has been a leader in the investment community. I cannot imagine anyone more qualified to step in as Treasury Secretary. And once confirmed, he will become the chief economic spokesman for my administration. Nick's sure hand at the helm would ensure the steady continuation of the economic policies that have brought about the longest economic recovery in our history and job opportunities that have resulted in the lowest unemployment rate in 14 years.

 

The theme of this administration has been: ``Others talk, we deliver.'' Jim and Nick are doers who share my vision of what can be, and I'm proud and grateful for their help. Jim, I wish you luck. And, Nick, welcome to what just might be the most active 6 months of this administration.

 

And now I think Jim has something to say.

 

Secretary Baker. Thank you very much, Mr. President. After your election victory almost 8 years ago, I think it's fair to say that you broke the mold of convention. You named as your White House Chief of Staff the former campaign manager of your last competitor in the primary campaign. In doing so, you not only surprised most political and governmental observers, you shocked me as well. But at the same time, you gave me an opportunity to serve for which I will always be profoundly grateful. Thanks to your willingness to entrust me with responsibility, I was able to participate directly in what you rightly termed a new beginning.

 

You have achieved, Mr. President, the first successful two-term Presidency in almost three decades. Mr. President, I'm confident that historians will view the Reagan era as one in which America refound her pride, her strength, her confidence, and her proper direction, for which, of course, we must all be deeply thankful to you.

 

You know, I feel there's no way I can fully repay you for the trust and the kindness which you have shown me over the years. But as you've noted, the Vice President has asked that I assume the chairmanship of his Presidential election campaign. And it does seem to me that in seeking to advance your Vice President's candidacy I can best help ensure the survival of your legacy and assure that your remarkable contributions are extended on toward the 21st century. The challenge, of course, is to carry forward the progress that you have fostered and to build upon that progress. I seek to help meet that challenge, with an image of your effective leadership etched forever in my mind and with appreciation for your warmth and your kindness deep in my heart.

 

Mr. President, I know you will be well served by your excellent choice of the distinguished former Senator Nick Brady as my successor. Nick.

 

Mr. Brady. Mr. President, I'm honored by your confidence. And I'm proud, subject to confirmation by the Senate, to serve in your Cabinet. Your administration has brought to this country the longest sustained period of prosperity in recent years. Under Jim Baker's firm hand, the United States has reestablished itself as a leader in world financial circles. I look forward to continuing this progress, serving you and the American people. Thank you.

 

Reporter. Secretary Baker, can you tell us what you're going to do to shape up the Bush campaign, with an 18- to 20-point deficit in the polls?

 

Secretary Baker. I'm going to answer those questions right now over at the campaign headquarters.

 

Q. Well, Mr. President, if you can tell us --  --

 

Q. Mr. President, are you relieved that Oliver North's trial has been postponed until after the election?

 

The President. I'm not going to take any questions here. They can't, for a very legitimate reason --  -- 

 

Q. Mr. Brady, were you promised to stay on in the Bush -- if Vice President Bush wins, are you staying on?

 

Mr. Brady. I'm going to answer any questions and make any statements during my Senate confirmation. Thank you for your interest.

 

Note: The President spoke to reporters at 4:30 p.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House.