Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) has just withdrawn his nomination for the position of Commerce Secretary. This is breaking news coming in now, but there’s not yet word on the reason behind it.
Just in – there are 2 reasons:
- He is unhappy with the economic stimulus package.
- He is unhappy that the census moved from being controlled by the Commerce Department to the White House.
So, President Obama is going to have to AGAIN find another person for Secretary of Commerce (since Governor Bill Richardson [D-NM]). I’ll try to update this when there’s more information.
Here’s what Obama said during an interview on Air Force One:
“Judd is a good man. And I think that he sincerely wanted to work with us. I think he had a change of heart on the idea of leaving the Senate. [Gregg is] somebody that we’re going to work with on issues like fiscal responsibility, the fiscal summit that’s coming up. And the one thing I want to make sure of is that people don’t take from this the notion that we can’t get Democrats and Republicans working together. I’m going to keep on working at this, and eventually, we are going to break down some of these barriers because the American people need it. They are desperate for us to find common ground.”
He was then asked, “What do you see in terms of common ground potential that perhaps we in the media do not?”
Obama: “I’m an eternal optimist. I can tell you, generally speaking, Judd Gregg and I agree on 80% of things that matter to the American people. There’s 20% that we disagree on. I’ve always felt that we can find areas to work on that we share, and then have a vigorous, heated debate on some of the things that we don’t. And I think we’re going to get there. [Gregg and I] had a discussion over the last couple days. I wasn’t sure whether he had made a final decision or not. But clearly, you know, I think he was just having second thoughts about leaving the Senate, a place where he’s thrived and been there for a long time. You know I think the one thing I give him credit for is having searched his heart before he took on the job because obviously you don’t want somebody having a change of heart after they have been confirmed and are in the process of building a team.”
Answering a question about when he realized Gregg had reached a final decision, Obama said: “Today. Look, this kind of thing happens all the time, people change their minds. Just usually there aren’t a lot of reporters around when it happens.”
And here’s a press release that Gregg issued:
“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.
And here’s what he said in an interview right after the news broke that he was withdrawing:
I regret that due to the impending Senate schedule involving the potential of dealing with an extremely large stimulus package, coupled with the ongoing issues of developing fiscal policy relative to the budget and the continuing economic downturn and my responsibility for foreign operations appropriations, it has become difficult to continue service on the TARP oversight board. I have advised Senator McConnell I will need to step aside from this effort.
Gregg, also a ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, said that even though he is leaving TARP, he will continue to work with the panel.
I will continue to be involved in ongoing TARP discussions and oversight, and will work to ensure that TARP funding remains focused and targeted in order to stabilize our economy and protect consumers.
Alright, so there’s the press releases / comments that were issued.