Discuss as:

Obama picks third Repub. for cabinet

From NBC's Athena Jones

WASHINGTON -- President Obama tapped Sen. Judd Gregg to head the Commerce Department, making the New Hampshire lawmaker the third Republican to be nominated for a Cabinet position.

Obama ran on the notion of taking a pragmatic approach to problem solving that is not based on party.

"We know the only way to solve the great challenges of our time is to put aside stale ideology and petty partisanship, and embrace what works," he said of Gregg, who would join his fellow GOPers Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The president again called for quick passage of the recovery package that is working its way through Congress and reiterated that the "vast majority" of the investments in the plan would be made within the first year and a half.

Joking that he and Gregg disagreed on who should have won the presidential election, Obama went on to hail him for his "proud record of service," saying his experience as a businessman, attorney, state executive councilor, congressman, governor and senator meant he had seen how the economy affects communities, businesses and families and that as the Commerce Subcommittee chair on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Gregg was already familiar with the department.

Obama also applauded Gregg's ability to reach across the aisle and his reputation of strict fiscal discipline.

"He'll be an outstanding addition to the depth and experience of my economic team, a trusted voice in my Cabinet, and an able and persuasive ambassador for industry who makes it known to the world that America is open for business," he said.

Gregg also focused on bipartisanship during his brief remarks.

"This is not a time when we should stand in our ideological corners and shout at each other," Gregg said. "This is a time to govern and govern well."

The news came on a day when the Obama administration was battling perception issues with one Cabinet designee, former Sen. Tom Daschle, under fire for failing to pay taxes on a car and driver and another designee, Nancy Killefer, withdrawing her name as chief compliance officer in the new administration for tax reasons.

Obama ignored a shouted question about tax issues at the end of the event announcing Gregg.