President Bush today named House Republican Whip Dick Cheney of Wyoming as secretary of defense to replace John Tower, whose nomination was rejected Thursday by the Senate.
Cheney, 48, was chief of the White House staff during the administration of President Gerald R. Ford, when Ford was trying to restore presidential prestige after the Watergate scandal, and has served in the House since 1978. He is the No. 2 Republican in the chamber.
Tower was an acknowledged expert in defense matters. Cheney, in contrast, said he is knowledgeable in many important areas but has much to learn.
Bush made no direct reference to the Tower saga, which ended on the Senate floor 24 hours before today’s announcement, as he presented his choice. But he said, “Look, that’s history” when asked later about it.
Cheney said he underwent heart-bypass surgery last August but returned to work three weeks later. He also sustained a mild heart attack in 1978.