Alexander Haig Dead at 85
Ex-general served as secretary of state and Nixon's chief of staff
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2010 9:42 AM CST

(Newser) – Alexander Haig died this morning at age 85. The former four-star general served as White House chief of staff during the tumultuous final months of the Nixon administration—he kept the place running and guided Nixon toward a peaceful resignation, reports the Washington Post—and he ran for the top office himself in 1988. But he's perhaps best known to Americans as Ronald Reagan's secretary of state, who incorrectly told the nation "I am in control here" after Reagan got shot.

Another former Reagan aide, Lyn Nofgizer, said Haig knew that despite all his accomplishments, the third paragraph of his obituary would harp on that, notes the New York Times—in the third paragraph of its obituary. Prior to the news conference in which he made the declaration, Haig told fellow Cabinet members that the "helm is right here, and that means in this chair for now, constitutionally, until the vice president gets here." The Constitution, of course, disagrees, and Haig's words forever earned him the reputation as being hungry for power.