Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) is withdrawing from consideration for Commerce Secretary, citing “irresolvable conflicts” on the stimulus package and the Census. Gregg said in a statement:
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.
Full statement below:
Sen. Gregg stated, “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.”
Recall, in 1995, Gregg voted to abolish the Dept. of Commerce.
,MSNBC reports that the White House press office was “surprised” by Gregg’s withdrawal, saying that it was “news to them.” A “senior White House official” told Politico that he was “totally caught off guard” by the news.
,Last week Gregg said of the recovery package, “I think the one that’s pending is in the range we need. I do believe it’s a good idea to do it at two levels, which this bill basically does, which is immediate stimulus and long-term initiatives which actually improve our competitiveness and our productivity.”
,Gregg tells Politico: “I couldn’t be Judd Gregg and serve in the Cabinet. I should have faced up to the reality of that earlier.” Gregg also said that “the Census was not a major factor in his decision — that the bigger factors were his background as a fiscal conservative and independence.”
,Statement from White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs:
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.
,On a conference call with New Hampshire reporters, Gregg said that “he notified the White House earlier this week about his decision, and they have known for some time his concerns.” He also said he doesn’t plan to seek re-election.
,During a press conference, Gregg refused to say whether he would vote for the stimulus bill tomorrow.
,Gregg also said that “of course” he had spoken to President Obama about his decision. “It would have been highly inappropriate” for him not to, he said. When pressed he said he had notified the White House “several days ago.”
,Asked his reaction to Gregg’s withdrawal, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) responded: “Wonderful.”