Obama’s commerce secretary pick withdraws nomination

February 13th, 2009 - 12:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Feb 13 (Xinhua) Judd Gregg, a Republican senator picked by US President Barack Obama as commerce secretary in his cabinet, withdrew his nomination Thursday.
Gregg made the announcement in a written statement, citing that he and Obama have “different set of views on many critical items of policy”.

“I want to thank the president for nominating me to serve in his cabinet as secretary of commerce … 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,” he said, referring to the stimulus bill being discussed in the Congress.

Gregg denied any other reason in play for the nomination withdrawal.

“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 US Senate,” he said.

Gregg noted that there are still opportunities for cooperation ahead.

“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,” he said.

Gregg abstained in the senate vote on the stimulus bill, but he is apparently under pressure from fellow Republicans.

He was nominated by Obama as commerce secretary Feb 3, after the president’s initial pick, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, withdrew nomination amid a grand jury investigation into a state contract awarded to his political donors.

Gregg, 61, is a former New Hampshire governor who previously served in the house.

He has been in the senate since 1993 and currently serves as the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, where he is known as a crusader against big spending.

His departure was seen as a triumph by the Republicans in the heated-up bipartisan fight over the massive economic stimulus bill.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell praised Gregg’s decision as “principled”, saying that “it’s great to have him back”.

But for Obama, the decision is bad-timed and will be a distraction to his efforts to sell the stimulus plan.

The first consequence, analysts said, is that it creates another loss in his cabinet, which saw health secretary nominee Tom Daschle step aside last week after questions were raised about his failure to pay taxes on a car and driver service.

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