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70. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • President Ford
  • Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
  • Brent Scowcroft, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Rumsfeld: The Gallup Poll is showing an eight percent shift in people thinking Defense spending is too low.

The Defense subcommittee is cutting $100 million from the budget. I think with the leaders you should say you have tightened it as much as possible. Say: “We have got to stop the tradition of cutting $5–8 billion each year. The House is better this year and I don’t expect you to agree exactly, but I think the country will be served only if you come in at my level—or higher. If you want to disagree, do it on both sides—up and down.”

I think the Armed Services Committee will come in over your budget. So we would go to the Budget Committee with one committee over and one under.

President: We got to make the fight in the Budget Committee, not in November.

I met with David Lindsay of the Sarasota paper.2 He started talking about overcommitment to Israel on tanks. I explained the production situation to him. He said Schlesinger wasn’t a good Secretary—too much in the clouds. He wants to talk to you. He is a little pompous, but he is a serious guy.

Rumsfeld: Okay, I will.

Greener is running our best people out for press briefings. It is having a very good effect.

President: Schlesinger thought all he had to do is get McClellan and Mahon on board. The Chairmen can’t deliver any more.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to national security policy.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 18, March 1, 1976—Ford, Rumsfeld. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office.
  2. Ford met with David B. Lindsay, Jr., publisher and editor of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and Journal, on February 29, during the President’s stay in Florida. (Ibid., Staff Secretary’s Office, President’s Daily Diary)