WASHINGTON — President Reagan today nominated Ann Dore McLaughlin, a Republican public relations veteran who has held several top jobs in the Nixon and Reagan administrations, to succeed William E. Brock as secretary of labor for the last 15 months of the Reagan Administration.
"Welcome to the team," Reagan told her at a Rose Garden ceremony.
"She'll give the Labor Department decisive and forceful leadership," he said. "Besides," he quipped, "if she's handled John McLaughlin this long, she can handle anything."
He was referring to her husband, a political talk show host in Washington and former confidant of ex-President Richard M. Nixon.
A Bond With Workers
Ann McLaughlin called the nomination "a very special privilege" that would give her "a special bond" with American workers.
"As the second woman to undertake this privilege, I am indeed aware of the challenges," she said. The first female labor secretary was Frances Perkins, who served under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
There appeared to be little initial sentiment among Democrats or union leaders to attempt blocking McLaughlin's confirmation by the Senate.
"We're going to take a pretty good look at her, but it doesn't seem like she's drawing any serious opposition," said Paul Donovan, a spokesman for the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.).
Reagan's Cabinet has been without a woman since Elizabeth Hanford Dole announced her resignation as transportation secretary in September to work full time on the GOP presidential campaign of her husband, Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas.
The only other woman ever in Reagan's Cabinet was Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, who served four years as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
It was also Dole's presidential bid that created the opening for McLaughlin at the Labor Department. Brock announced his resignation three weeks ago to become the Senate minority leader's campaign manager.
Brock had held the labor post for 2 1/2 years after serving the first five years of Reagan's Administration as U.S. trade representative.
Third to Hold Post
If confirmed by the Senate, McLaughlin would be Reagan's third labor secretary. The first, Raymond J. Donovan, resigned four years into the job amid charges that a construction company he formerly headed had received kickbacks from minority contractors. A New York jury found Donovan innocent of those charges earlier this year.
McLaughlin, 45, resigned last March as the No. 2 official in the Interior Department following several clashes with Interior Secretary Donald P. Hodel.