Rumsfeld setting up service foundation

Pentagon Holds Departure Ceremony For Rumsfeld
More than seven months after his Pentagon departure ceremony, Donald Rumsfeld (right), is encouraging others to consider a life of public service.Mark Wilson / Getty Images
/ Source: The Associated Press

Now that he's out of government, former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is setting up a foundation to attract others to public service.

"His whole focus is getting this foundation organized," said Lawrence Di Rita, once Rumsfeld's spokesman at the Pentagon and still authorized to speak for him. "He's deep into that."

While Rumsfeld did stints as an investment banker and pharmaceutical executive, the 75-year-old Republican spent most of his life in public service, including two separate tours as defense secretary, four terms representing Illinois in the House of Representatives and various other posts in four different GOP administrations.

In May, Rumsfeld visited some New York publishing houses and generated rumors in the publishing industry that he might be contemplating writing a memoir. But Di Rita said he's undecided about that.

"He's been told by a lot of people they'd be interested in a book discussing the whole span of his public and private career, not just the current topics of the day," Di Rita said. His visits to publishers were merely part of a learning process "to see how that would work and how he would organize it if he decided to do it."

The only decision Rumsfeld has made is that any book proceeds would help finance the foundation, Di Rita said. Book or not, Rumsfeld intends to finance the foundation himself.

There's no target date for launching the foundation, but Rumsfeld has decided it would not be attached to any particular university. Grants would go directly to individual scholars at the graduate and postgraduate level, Di Rita said.

"If he finds a promising young scholar developing expertise on public policy matters, he wants to see what he can do to encourage that and to give that type of scholar an opportunity to continue his studies with an eye to public service," Di Rita said.

With the foundation to work on, Rumsfeld hasn't joined corporate boards or hit the lecture circuit, Di Rita said. He's only spoken at some informal seminars.

He lives in St. Michaels, Md., and is "enjoying his family," Di Rita said.