From NBC's Mark Murray and Ken Strickland
Breaking news: Judd Gregg, the New Hampshire Republican senator President Obama tapped to be Commerce Secretary, has withdrawn his nomination to serve in Obama's cabinet.
Just askin,' but did Gregg only discover now that Obama is a Democrat? The withdrawal will remove a possible GOP Senate vacancy, if Gregg decides to run for re-election in 2010. And it eliminates the possibility that Bonnie Newman (R) would serve in Gregg's place in the Senate.
The statement from Gregg: "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. 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."
*** UPDATE *** NBC's Kelly O'Donnell, listening in a conference call that Gregg just conducted with New Hampshire reporters, reports that Gregg said he notified the White House earlier this week about his decision, and they have known for some time his concerns. Gregg would not say exactly when he spoke to the president.
Gregg cited the stimulus vote and Census count, but emphasized overall differences of views philosophically between him self and the president. He added that he "could not be a full time team member."
Gregg also said he does not plan to seek re-election.