|Alexander Haig, Jr.|
|United States Secretary of State|
January 22, 1981 – July 5, 1982
|White House Chief of Staff|
May 4, 1973 – September 21, 1974
Alexander Haig, Jr. (December 2, 1924 - February 20, 2010) was the United States Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan and the White House Chief of Staff under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Prior to these cabinet-level positions, he retired as a general from the United States Army.
After Reagan won the 1980 presidential election, he nominated Haig to be his secretary of state. In 1981, following the March 30 assassination attempt on Reagan, Haig asserted before reporters, "I am in control here" as a result of Reagan's hospitalization, indicating that, while President Reagan had not "transfer[red] the helm," Haig was in fact directing White House crisis management until Vice President Bush arrived in Washington to assume that role:
Constitutionally, gentlemen, you have the president, the vice president, and the secretary of state in that order, and should the president decide he wants to transfer the helm to the vice president, he will do so. He has not done that. As of now, I am in control here, in the White House, pending return of the vice president and in close touch with him. If something came up, I would check with him, of course.
Haig was incorrect, the U.S. Constitution, including both the presidential line of succession and the 25th Amendment, dictates what happens when a president is incapacitated. The Speaker of the House and the president pro temp of the Senate precede the secretary of state in the line of succession.
Haig resigned from Reagan's cabinet in July 1982. After leaving office, he unsuccessfully sought the presidential nomination in the 1988 Republican primaries. Haig died at the age of 85, from complications from a staphylococcal infection.