Gregg withdraws Commerce nomination

New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg cited differences over the stimulus and the Census for his decision to remain in his current job.

Published February 12, 2009 9:30PM (EST)

New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg won't be Commerce secretary after all. Gregg, a Republican, has just announced that he's decided to withdraw his nomination for the job. He'll remain in the Senate.

In a statement, Gregg emphasized, in a nod to the trouble some of President Obama's top nominees have had recently, that "nothing about the vetting process played any role in this decision."

Instead, he said, his decision was precipitated by differences of opinion over the stimulus package and over the Census, which the Commerce secretary oversees. Because of concerns from minority groups about how a Republican would conduct the Census, the Obama administration announced plans for more White House involvement, a decision the GOP has been attacking in recent days.

From the 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.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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Judd Gregg R-n.h.