Gregg out at Commerce


Update: Judd Gregg spoke to congressional reporters a few minutes ago and denied he offered his name as commerce secretary, saying a “third party” brought his name to the White House’s attention.

“I didn’t campaign for this job,” he said, adding that he did call the White House after hearing he was a candidate to check on the status of the nomination.

Gregg said the reorganization of the Census Bureau was only a “slight issue” in his decision to pull his name from consideration. He said President Barack Obama is a “strong, effective and good president” and that his nomination “wasn’t a good fit and was not fair to (Obama).”

He said repeatedly that the decision to step down helps him remain true to himself and not serve in a situation where he couldn’t remain true to his values.

I said yes, but that was my mistake, not his. After 30 years of being myself, it would be hard to assume another role.

He said he was too caught up in the “euphoria” of being nominated to focus on the details.

When they asked me if I’d do the job, I said yes … I should have focused sooner on the implications of being in the Cabinet.

Gregg, a Republican from New Hampshire, said he won’t run for re-election in 2010. He declined to say if he will vote on the stimulus bill Friday in the Senate, but he did add that the markets will respond to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s “Tarp 2” proposal announced this week once they hear the details.

— Rebecca Neal

Update: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs just issued a rather terse statement regarding Judd Gregg’s abrupt departure as Commerce secretary nominee. Here’s the statement, in its entirety:

Senator Gregg reached out to the President and offered his name for Secretary of Commerce.  He was very clear throughout the interviewing process that despite past disagreements about policies, he would support, embrace, and move forward with the President’s agenda.  Once it became clear after his nomination that Senator Gregg was not going to be supporting some of President Obama’s key economic priorities, it became necessary for Senator Gregg and the Obama administration to part ways.  We regret that he has had a change of heart.

Original post: Sen. Judd Gregg has withdrawn his nomination for Commerce secretary.

President Barack Obama nominated Gregg on Feb. 3 in an effort to reach across the political aisle. But philosophical differences between the Republican senator and the Democratic administration were too large to overcome, Gregg said in a statement issued this afternoon.

It has become apparent during this process that this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census there are irresolvable conflicts for me. Prior to accepting this post, we had discussed these and other potential differences, but unfortunately we did not adequately focus on these concerns. We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy.

Gregg abstained from voting on the stimulus bill when it came before the Senate on Tuesday, provoking a firestorm of criticism from his home state of New Hampshire. And observers have noted that Gregg voted in the 1990s to kill the Census Bureau, which he would be tasked with leading as head of the Commerce Department.

Gregg is the second nominee for the Commerce post to have withdrawn from consideration. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, President Obama’s first choice, stepped down last month.


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