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Jewish Aide to Replace Baker As Reagan’s Chief of Staff

June 15, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

President Reagan has promoted Kenneth Duberstein, his deputy chief of staff, to White House chief of staff, the first Jew to hold that post.

White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said Duberstein will take over for Chief of Staff Howard Baker Jr. on July 1, when Baker will return to his private law practice. Baker is stepping down for personal reasons.

In a statement read by Fitzwater, Reagan said, “I have known Ken since the earliest days of my administration, when he served in our office of legislative affairs.

“I welcome his leadership in the next several months as we attend the eighth economic summit of industrialized nations and conduct the affairs of government for the next seven months.”

Duberstein was recommended to the job by Baker, who fondly nicknamed his assistant “Duberdog.” He is the fourth man to preside over the 325-member Reagan White House staff.

“Ken will be my principal aide and will lead the White House staff as we head into the home stretch,” Reagan said. “He is an outstanding manager and skilled strategist who has been fundamental to the significant accomplishments, foreign and domestic, we have achieved since Ken returned as deputy chief of staff in March 1987.”

Duberstein was assistant to the president for legislative affairs in 1982 and 1983 and was deputy assistant for legislative affairs from 1981 to 1982.

A native of Brooklyn, Duberstein received a bachelor’s degree from Franklin and Marshall College and a master’s degree from American University. From 1965 to 1976, he worked for the late Sen. Jacob Javits (R-N.Y.). He also worked for Mayor John Lindsay of New York, and Gov. and Vice President Nelson Rockefeller.

Hyman Bookbinder, special Washington representative for the American Jewish Committee, said Duberstein, in his previous White House positions, was a “person you can go to move something on the (Capitol) Hill.”

Morris Amitay, former executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, said Duberstein is “not a Middle East expert but knowledgeable” on the region.

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