Donald Rumsfeld served as the U.S. Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush
from 2001-06. It was Rumsfeld's second turn in the position: he also served as Secretary of Defense under Gerald Ford
from 1975-77. Rumsfeld's Republican connections extend back to 1958, when he became an assistant to Congressman Dave Dennison of Ohio. He served as a congressman from Illinois (1962-69) before going to work as an economic adviser for President Richard Nixon
(1969-73). He continued in the Ford administration as White House Chief of Staff and then as the youngest-ever Secretary of Defense until Ford's defeat by Jimmy Carter
. During the 1980s Rumsfeld served in various capacities as an advisor to the Ronald Reagan
administration, but spent most of his time in private industry. He served on corporate boards in the banking and communications industries and spent eight years as the CEO of pharmaceutical giant G. D. Searle & Co. He returned to the Pentagon in 2001, becoming the 21st Secretary of Defense. After the attacks on the U.S. in 2001, Rumsfeld directed forces in an attack on Afghanistan and was a vigorous proponent of invading Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein
(2003). He also became a familiar face on television as a spokesman for U.S. military forces. When success in Iraq was slow in coming, critics -- both civilian and military -- piled on Rumsfeld. The day after the 2006 midterm elections gave Democrats control of the House of Representatives, Bush announced Rumsfeld's resignation, apparently in response to the increasing unpopularity of the war in Iraq. Rumsfeld stepped down officially in December of 2006 and was replaced by Robert Gates
, a former C.I.A director (1991-93).