Judd Gregg Pulls Out of Consideration for Commerce Secretary

This statement from the office of Judd Gregg is shocking, to say the least.

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.

This is strange for so many reasons. It's hard to believe that the Republican Gregg, who has been in public office for three decades and who is the son of a Governor, didn't know what he was getting himself into by accepting a position in the cabinet of an administration of a Democrat. Why these policy differences cropped up now, weeks into the process, instead of in the period leading up to Gregg's selection and acceptance of the President's offer is difficult to understand.

But more as we hear it...

Update [2009-2-12 17:5:19 by Jonathan Singer]: The 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”.

Update [2009-2-12 17:11:19 by Todd Beeton]:More from Gregg (via Politico):

Judd Gregg tells Politico’s David Rogers: “I couldn’t be Judd Gregg and serve in the Cabinet. I should have faced up to the reality of that earlier.”

Gregg said the Census was not a major factor in his decision – that the bigger factors were his background as a fiscal conservative and independence. He said he made the White House aware of his concerns as he wrestled with the decisions over the last week. “It’s been very difficult,” he said.

“The fault lies with me,” Gregg said, refusing to discuss any conversations he has had with Obama himself. Asked if he felt the decision would be an embarrassment for the president, Gregg said, “I may have embarrassed myself but hopefully not him.”

Update [2009-2-12 17:26:10 by Todd Beeton]:Ron Brownstein on MSNBC: "It will be interesting to see what this means for 2010. This reaffirms Judd Gregg's partisanship in a state trending the other way."

Judd Gregg is currently holding a newsconference. He's very complimentary toward Obama and criticizing himself. He has just promised to carry Obama's water in the Senate. Can I hold you to that?

"This is simply a bridge too far for me. The president asked me to do it. I said yes. That was my mistake, not his."

"I want to express my admiration for this president."

Update [2009-2-12 17:33:19 by Todd Beeton]:"Will I run in 2010? Probably not."

Update [2009-2-12 17:33:19 by Todd Beeton]:Gregg just denied having reached out to the administration for the job, which Robert Gibbs said he had in the statement above. "Everybody has a different recollection of what happened."

Tags: cabinet, Commerce Department, Judd Gregg, Obama Administration (all tags)



Pure speculation


by the mollusk 2009-02-12 11:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Pure speculation

Interesting speculation. I wouldn't be surprised if the stimulus package is being used as an excuse to cover something that turned up in the vetting.

by desmoinesdem 2009-02-12 11:26AM | 0 recs
I have to agree

He is covering up here, something was going to come out in the vetting and the press coverage.

by WashStateBlue 2009-02-12 11:27AM | 0 recs
Re: I have to agree

I think the GOP likes to overcount illegal aliens and undercount the citizen minorities. Illegal aliens are mostly in GOP states while the citizen minorities are in mostly Democratic states. Had illegal aliens not been counted towards redistricting Al Gore would have been elected President and the history of the world would be different today. Florida would have had three fewer electoral votes while New York, Illinois and PA would have had one additional votes each!

by Boilermaker 2009-02-12 12:15PM | 0 recs
fantastic news

for everyone but Bonnie Newman.

I wonder if Paul Hodes will stay in the NH-Sen race. I'd like to see him take a crack at the seat, but I'd hate for him to give up NH-02 and lose to Gregg.

by desmoinesdem 2009-02-12 11:25AM | 0 recs
Re: fantastic news

I'll do some checking, but I imagine he will. He was leaning towards it anyway.

by Nathan Empsall 2009-02-12 11:32AM | 0 recs
Re: fantastic news

We need to get Craig Bensen to run..that way we are covered!

by Boilermaker 2009-02-12 12:19PM | 0 recs
Re: fantastic news

Hodes confirms he is running for Senate regardless of what Gregg does.

by Skaje 2009-02-12 01:48PM | 0 recs

Now Mr. President, could we stop playing political games and pick someone who you actually trust with the whole job? Preferably someone who we're sure has paid all their taxes?

by Travis Stark 2009-02-12 11:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Good.

good advice!

by Todd Beeton 2009-02-12 11:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Good.

If we could take a break from appointing republicans and lobbyists, and get around to appointing Howard Dean Sec. of Health and Human services - Do you think we'd re-energize that tiny base - millions strong...?

It has been a hallmark of Obama's appointments that they are well thought out, and vetted - however some assumptions have been deeply flawed

First, - that if you are an insider to DC, you will get a free pass... Not so, as Daschle found out.

Second, now, he is beginning to realize that the GOP loves political theatre.

Dean for HHS:

by Trey Rentz 2009-02-12 12:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Good.

"It has been a hallmark of Obama's appointments that they are well thought out, and vetted..."

Ha ha, very funny.

by dualdiagnosis 2009-02-12 12:25PM | 0 recs
Hodes needs to get out of the Senate race

I dont think he can beat Gregg.  In fact, I know he cant beat Gregg because the political climate will clearly be against us in 2010.  

by Kent 2009-02-12 11:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Hodes needs to get out of the Senate race

As long as we see some movement in the right direction by 2010 I don't think it's clear that the tide will be against us, and I'm not certain that Republican obstructionism isn't going to backfire on them either.

As for Hodes, someone has to beat Gregg. If not Hodes, who? I actually like this better. We've got Gregg who has obviously been part of the problem, as opposed to a fresh Republican face. Now we just need a Democrat that can beat him. Someone with the name recognition and relative goodwill of Jeanne Shaheen. Who else is in the bullpen. Hodes may be our only bet.

by Travis Stark 2009-02-12 11:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Hodes needs to get out of the Senate race

Do we wanna risk Hodes' House seat if he isnt a sure bet?  What if Shea-Porter also gets in?  That will really mess things up and we could be setting ourselves up for a New Mexico situation(Republicans lost all of the seats in the state in 2008).  

by Kent 2009-02-12 11:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Hodes needs to get out of the Senate race

Hodes' seat isn't a huge risk, we've got a good local bench (I'm in that district) but the Republicans couldn't muster a decent candidate last year. Shea-Porter's seat is the bigger risk, I hope she stays out of it. I'm also not all that sure she'd make a good Senator.

by Nathan Empsall 2009-02-12 11:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Hodes needs to get out of the Senate race

Gregg  just announce on WMUR he will not be seeking re-election.

Now this just gets stranger and stranger.

by jsfox 2009-02-12 12:24PM | 0 recs

It is likely that Obama drew up where he wanted to go with the department and would not bend enough to Gregg's ideas.  Gregg probably found out that his hope that he could, more or less, define the terms and mold the department his way, was not going to work.  Too many of the egos in Washington, eager to accept high-profile cabinet positions, forget that once in the cabinet you can voice an opinion which the president takes under advisement,  but ultimately all decisions and directions come from  the guy at the top.    

by devilrays 2009-02-12 11:32AM | 0 recs
That's the Occam's Razor option

That seems the most plausable.  He realizes that Obama isn't going to let him use his cabinet position as a platform from which to implement conservative policy, instead wanting him, surprise surprise, to use his expertise and ethic in implementing Obama's policy.

Of course, as we have all seen, modern Republicans push the boundries of plausable explanations on things.  I wouldn't put it out of the range of possibility that it's a vetting issue, or even some sort of bizarre calculated move by the Republican caucus to try and discredit Obama again.

Life has been complicated since paranoia was proven to be a valid state of mind.

by Dracomicron 2009-02-12 11:55AM | 0 recs

can we now get a dem in the post now?oh i wish snowe would take it.

by art3 2009-02-12 11:33AM | 0 recs
Er, Snowe isn't a Democrat

Or are you suggesting that either Snowe or a Democrat would be a decent choice?  That I agree with.

by Dracomicron 2009-02-12 11:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Judd Gregg Pulls Out

Ok, now I'm doubly pissed he didn't vote on the stimulus bill.

This can't be good for his image here in the state - a failed attempt to be bipartisan. Not only does he flake out, he also deprives us of our half our voice on the most important bill of the Congress. Running against Gregg still isn't as good as running for an open seat, but this may make it easier than it was a few months ago.

(writing from NH)

by Nathan Empsall 2009-02-12 11:34AM | 0 recs
The Bipartisanship Strategy Has Failed

While having a cabinet that presents different view points may be attractive in theory, such a cabinet almost always fails. Cabinets with like minded people tend to work better because the members work as a team. Moreover, cabinet members tend to have big egos and such members become frustrated or quit in protest when they don't get their way. Obama needs to pick people who will enthusiastically carry out his policies. If he wants different viewpoints, he can always invite Republicans over for lunch.

by Zzyzzy 2009-02-12 11:36AM | 0 recs

While having a cabinet that presents different view points may be attractive in theory, such a cabinet almost always fails. Cabinets with like minded people tend to work better because the members work as a team.

I agree that bipartisanship for the sake of bipartisanship has failed, but I don't quite agree with what you said here. Far more than attractive "in theory," I'd say that having a cabinet that presents different views really is a necessity for good governance. If Obama has to justify his policies behind closed doors in an intelligent debate, justifying them to the public will be a lot easier, and his arguments will be a lot stronger. Other views are valuable.

The difference is, those other views can come from within the Democratic Party. We've got a lot of smart, talented people, and they've got different ideas and perspectives. And I don't just mean the difference between movement progressives and the DLC, I mean real, honest differences of opinions between people who could all be labeled "progressive."

So I hope Obama replaces Gregg with someone who does have his/her own unique vision and won't always agree with others. But I also hope that this time he picks a Democrat. The two aren't mutually exclusive.

In other words, diversity of opinion and bipartisanship aren't the same thing.

by Fitzy 2009-02-12 11:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Almost

Good idea- expose Obama to all different points of view, as long as they are all from progressives.

by dualdiagnosis 2009-02-12 12:30PM | 0 recs
Still Have to be Careful

I agree that Obama should be exposed to a diverse point of views by talking and listening to people from all political persuasions. Moreover, I agree that having a politically diverse cabinet is a lofty goal, and my comment above was referring to having people of a different political party in the cabinet.

However, the more I think about it, the more I believe that even other Democrats who don't share the same goals as the Democratic president could be a mine trap later on. My life experience tells me that people don't like "negative" people or people who often disagree with them. My experience from work tells me that most people feel uncomfortable working with people with a different view point. In most cases, the workers with the minority view point eventually get fired.

Jimmy Carter fell in the trap of having a diverse cabinet. Eventually, people like Andrew Young and Cyrus Vance resigned to protest policy differences they had with Carter. This help caused the Democratic Party to split apart. I use to think like you, but now I believe that its better for a president to have people who will enthusiastically work for him or her. This will not happen if there are too big philosophy differences. Thus, I think Obama should select a Commerce Secretary that shares his own values.

by Zzyzzy 2009-02-12 04:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Still Have to be Careful

Sharing values is good, but that's not the same as sharing policy perspectives. Remember, a chorus of yes-men gives you the incompetence of George W. Bush.

by Nathan Empsall 2009-02-12 08:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Stop making Post Titles to Long to RE!!!!!!

Haha, I think it helps in NH, now he doens't piss of the people who wanted or didn't want the bill to pass. He skipped it.

Clever. Also he is doing it now to hurt Obama as much as he can since it's too late for him.

by MNPundit 2009-02-12 11:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Stop making Post Titles to Long to RE!!!!!!

He's a coward is what he is. He deprived us of a voice on that bill. Even if he voted against it, at least he'd be providing us with representation. I hope we use this against him, I don't think it has to help him.

by Nathan Empsall 2009-02-12 11:48AM | 0 recs
Cornyn may have stepped in

I think Sen. Cornyn may have stepped in, fearing defending another open seat.  We'll see what happens.

I really think we can't rate the Senate races until January 2010, when we have a better idea who's running, and who really is vulnerable.

by esconded 2009-02-12 11:37AM | 0 recs
Next Commerce Secretary Appointee?

How much do you want to bet that because Obama has offered Commerce to a Republican, the Villagers will treat that post as a Republican entitlement, and that if Obama doesn't nominate another Republican to Commerce the Villagers will spin it as "Obama Abandons Pledge for Bipartisanship"?

by Comic Book Guy 2009-02-12 11:47AM | 0 recs
too late

the Village already spun the stimulus package that way

by DTOzone 2009-02-12 04:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Judd Gregg Pulls Out

How did a backwater position like Commerce Secretary turn into such a political graveyard?

by souvarine 2009-02-12 11:49AM | 0 recs

Gregg is not running for reelection according to the page!


by Bury 2009-02-12 11:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Good!!

--"Clearly there are views that are different here, and we should have focused on them earlier."

--Says he "went back and forth on it," but "this is more a question of just being me."

--Calls Obama "an extraordinarily talented indivdual."

--Says he doesn't plan to run for re-election. "There are other things to do in life."

by Bury 2009-02-12 11:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Good!!

That makes me a whole lot more inclined to think that something came up during vetting.

by pneuma 2009-02-12 12:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Good!!

Weird that if it was a vetting issue it caught the press office and senior officials by surprise.

by dualdiagnosis 2009-02-12 12:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Good!!

Good catch! Jonathan, please edit this into the post!

by Nathan Empsall 2009-02-12 12:06PM | 0 recs


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