Sen. Judd Gregg, R-NH, just withdrew his name from consideration as President Obama’s nominee to be Secretary of Commerce.
Sen. Gregg stated in a paper statement, “I want to thank the president for nominating me to serve in his Cabinet as Secretary of Commerce. This was a great honor, and I had felt that I could bring some views and ideas that would assist him in governing during this difficult time. I especially admire his willingness to reach across the aisle. However, 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.
“Obviously the president requires a team that is fully supportive of all his initiatives. I greatly admire President Obama and know our country will benefit from his leadership, but at this time I must withdraw my name from consideration for this position. As we move forward, I expect there will be many issues and initiatives where I can and will work to assure the success of the president’s proposals. This will certainly be a goal of mine. Kathy and I also want to specifically thank Governor Lynch and Bonnie Newman for their friendship and assistance during this period. In addition we wish to thank all the people, especially in New Hampshire, who have been so kind and generous in their supportive comments.
“As a further matter of clarification, nothing about the vetting process played any role in this decision. I will continue to represent the people of New Hampshire in the United States Senate.”
President Obama in East Peoria, Ill., right now is heralding "Republicans I love" — former Minority Leader Bob Michel, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. Wonder if Gregg qualifies.
UPDATE: I find this baffling, I must say.
Did Sen. Gregg just wake up, pick up the New Hampshire Union Leader and suddenly have an epiphany that President Obama is a liberal Democrat?
I mean, this is Judd Gregg. He’s a pretty partisan fellow. Before he was named, I kept hearing that Obama was planning on appointing a Republican senator to the post and I never even asked about Gregg.
Anyway, some reax:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.: "Sen. Gregg made a principled decision to return and we’re glad to have him. He is among the smartest, most effective legislators to serve in the Senate –Democrat or Republican — and a key advisor to me and to the Republican Conference. It’s great to have him back.”
New Hampshire Democratic Gov. John Lynch: "I very much respect Senator Gregg’s decision to withdraw and stay in the U.S. Senate. I want to thank Bonnie Newman for her willingness to serve. She is a great public servant, who I am confident will continue to make important contributions to our state and our nation."
UPDATE #2: The brilliant Sunlen Miller reminds us that President Obama nominated Sen. Gregg just nine days ago — in the East Room of the White House.
At the time, Obama made note of their different parties and views on some issues but praised Gregg for being able to look beyond party lines.
"Clearly, Judd and I don’t agree on every issue — most notably who should have won the election," the president said. "But we 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. And we know the only way to solve the great challenges of our time is to put aside stale ideology and petty partisanship, and embrace what works. As one of the Republican Party’s most respected voices and skillful negotiators, Judd is a master of reaching across the aisle to get things done."
Sen. Gregg at the time said that the economic problems are too great to let politics get in the way.
"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. And therefore, when the president asked me to join his administration and participate in trying to address the issues of this time, I believed it was my obligation to say yes, and I look forward to it with enthusiasm."