by Jonathan Singer, Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 11:22:26 AM EST
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 Presidents agenda. Once it became clear after his nomination that Senator Gregg was not going to be supporting some of President Obamas 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 Politicos David Rogers: I couldnt 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. Its 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."