WASHINGTON — Labor Secretary William E. Brock announced his resignation today to head Sen. Bob Dole's presidential campaign, saying Dole--perceived by some as anti-labor--remembers "Dust Bowl poverty" and deserves to lead the nation.
Brock said he submitted his resignation to President Reagan, effective Nov. 1, so Brock can "embark on a new mission, a mission that I believe is critical to the future of this nation, the election of the next President of the United States."
Dole is scheduled to announce his candidacy formally Nov. 9.
Brock, who helped organize a strong Tennessee GOP, is expected to provide the biggest help for Dole in the South, where polls show the Kansas Republican running behind Vice President George Bush.
Brock, who took over the Labor Department in April, 1985, gave a campaign-like speech on behalf of Dole.
"Sen. Bob Dole is a man whose memories of Dust Bowl poverty and whose courageous battle to overcome debilitating injury not only shaped his conviction to principle, but conditioned him to care," Brock said.
"This is a conservative public servant with a demonstrated compassion, arising from his own personal experience, and commitment to reach out to the disadvantaged, the disaffected, the disenfranchised--to all of those who still yearn for their full share of the American dream," Brock said.
Brock said Dole will seek labor's support in his presidential campaign, although some union leaders are working against Dole because they perceive him as anti-labor.
'Every Vote in This Country'
"I don't worry about that," Brock said. "There's not an anti-labor bone in Bob Dole's body. Labor knows that. I think we can seek their votes. I want to go after every vote in this country."
Brock said Bush has a solid lead in the Republican contest but can be beaten if Dole runs "a better campaign."
Brock's move is the latest in a series of upheavals that have struck Reagan's Cabinet. Recently, Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Hanford Dole quit her post in order to campaign for her husband. Former Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige died in a rodeo accident this summer.
To fill those gaps, Reagan nominated James H. Burnley, deputy transportation secretary for almost four years, to succeed Dole and C. William Verity, former chairman of the steel giant Armco, to take Baldrige's place.
Verity was approved by the Senate on Tuesday. Confirmation hearings have not been held for Burnley, but he is expected to win approval despite some opposition.
Political sources say Bush, who formally announced his campaign Monday, had tried to get Treasury Secretary James A. Baker to resign from the Cabinet to again become his campaign manager, but Baker declined the offer.
Baker served as Bush's manager in the 1980 presidential campaign and then switched to the Reagan campaign. He is expected at least to be an adviser to the current Bush campaign and reportedly has his eye on the Cabinet post of secretary of state if Bush is elected in 1988.