Obama Nominates Gregg for Commerce, Silent on Tax Problems with Killefer

Feb 3, 2009 12:47pm

President Obama today announced his nomination of New Hampshire Republican Sen. Judd Gregg for commerce secretary, the third Republican to join his Cabinet, pending Senate confirmation.

“Clearly, Judd and I don’t agree on every issue, most notably who should have won the election,” the president said jokingly during the announcement in the Grand Foyer. “But we do agree on the urgent need to get American businesses and families back on their feet. We see eye-to-eye on conducting the nation’s business in a responsible, transparent and accountable manner.”

Gregg marks Obama’s second choice for commerce secretary, after New Mexico Gov Bill Richardson’s withdrawal of his name amid a grand jury investigation into a state contract awarded to political donors.      

Obama said Gregg’s background as commerce subcommittee chair in the Senate Appropriations Committee already made him knowledgeable about the department he will lead, and the president praised his reputation on the Hill for strict fiscal discipline.

The president made yet another pitch for the economic stimulus package, saying that leadership like Gregg’s is necessary to act “boldly and swiftly to shore up our financial system.”

“As one of the Republican Party’s most-respected voices and skillful negotiators, Judd’s a master of reaching across the aisle to get things done. He’ll be an outstanding addition to the depth and experience of my economic team, a trusted voice in my Cabinet and an able and persuasive ambassador for industry who makes it known to the world that America is open for business.”

Gregg echoed Obama’s sentiment of bipartisanship, especially in light of the dire economic situation.

“This is not a time for partisanship; this is not a time when we should stand in our ideological corners and shout at each other. This is a time to govern and govern well," Gregg said. "And therefore, when the president asked me to join his administration and participate in trying to address the issues at this time, I believed it was my obligation to say yes, and I look forward to it with enthusiasm.”

Obama did not take the bait on a question yelled by a reporter at the end of the announcement on news that Nancy Killefer had withdrawn her nomination for chief performance officer because of tax issues.

“Mr. President, why do so many people have a hard time paying taxes in your administration," a reporter yelled.

No answer from the president.

“Thanks guys,” the president said as he turned and walked toward the Blue Room with Gregg and Vice President Joe Biden by his side.

– Jake Tapper, Yunji de Nies & Sunlen Miller

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