February 12th, 2009
06:25 PM ET

Judd Gregg's withdrawal – Why?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/12/gregg.nomination/art.gregg.obama.gi.jpg]
CNN Political Reporters

A Democratic source tells CNN’s John King that Republican Sen. Judd Gregg campaigned for the job of Commerce Secretary - and had asked Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid to approach President Obama about it. Also that Gregg sat with the president, knew his policies and “erratically dropped out without warning."

A Democratic source confirms the same to CNN’s Jessica Yellin—saying that Senator Reid approached White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel about Gregg for Commerce Secretary.

CNN’s Candy Crowley reports a Republican source close to Gregg says his disagreement on funding for the "census tipped things," adding to increasing "worries about his seat at the table"- that Gregg might be marginalized “basically if on any issue important to Democratic constituencies - they are on one side and Judd is on the other - he is muted." A second GOP source says, "He didn't want to be a powerless GOP token and that's where this was headed."

From CNN’s Ed Henry: A Republican aide familiar with the decision adds that Gregg has been privately consulting with Republican leaders about this move for the “past couple of days” before making final decision today.

From Gloria Borger: A source close to the process says that removing the census from Commerce and having it “run” out of the White House was taken as a slap in the face by Gregg. “It was like saying they don’t trust you” with such a political issue. And guess what—they didn’t.

The source says those who wanted Gregg (including Rahm Emanuel) believed that in choosing him, the Obama team would be taking the opposition’s quarterback off the field.”

A Democratic source close to the White House says, “They have to take some of the blame for this. They almost humiliated him by taking the census away from him.”

However, this source adds, Gregg’s decision to recuse himself on stimulus was not taken well at the White House either—it was seen as an insult to them. A second source confirms displeasure at Gregg’s position the stimulus package to Jessica Yellin

White House Statement: "From the first days of the transition the Census has been a priority for the President, and a process he wanted to reevaluate. There is historic precedent for the director of the Census, who works for the Commerce Secretary and the President, to work closely with White House senior management - given the number of decisions that will have to be put before the President. We plan to return to that model in this administration."

Filed under: First 100 Days • Raw Politics
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    When the rubber meets the road Senator---it's all about you-–first me---then the American people-–coward.

    February 13, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  2. Emmerentia

    Mmmmm me thinks the man has something to hide, perhaps unpaid taxes or what?? Furthermore, it is clear the Republicans with McCain in the lead have made the decision to make President Obama's tenure a uphill battle and yes, "they still do not get it" do they?

    February 13, 2009 at 5:15 am |
  3. Mary

    I'm so ashamed and disappointed in Senator Gregg. Senator Gregg let FEAR of the Republican Party Change his Mind. He knows some Republicans will stup Mighty Low, Sadly Senator Gregg did not have the Balls to Stand against them. The House Republicans are following the Lead of their Leader, A Rich, Pill Poppin, Cigar Smoking, Tacky Loud Mouth who rants and rails and spews outrageous Trash Talk, who Cares Absolutely Nothing about the Radio listening Audience that he spews this Trash Talk to to. Any Man that would say he wants America or the President = one in the same to Fail, Than that Man is a Fool. And anyone who trys to defend what that Fool said doesn't give a don't give A Darn about America. I truly wish that Senator Gregg has the Moral Courage to be strong enough to do what was right, I don't know what the Republican have over his head, but It was enough to get him to Bail on the President, the reasons he gave made absouletly no sense, what changed in 9 days that you didn't know? (Republican Party Tatics–evil). Senator Gregg, "their nothing to Fear, but Fear itself" (Fear Binds You), Now the Republican Party owns you. Senator Judd Gregg, You did a Diservice to a President who trusted you at your word, You did a diservice to yourself for letting the Republican party use you, and you did a diservice to this Country who needed you to fight the Good Fight of Fairness not Party. I thank the (Three) Republicans (Senator Spector, Senator Collins, and Senator Snow) for Their Integrity, Their Dignity and their Courage to Stand up for what is Right, they are not fight against their Party, (They know that the 37 Republican that vote against the Stimulus Bill, would have voted against it even it was Perfect) These Three made the decision to do what is Right for the Country and for the American People, All the People. I know that some in the Republican Party can be Poison and Destructive Blockers and promote aversion of all that is Good. I'm Glad and thankful For These Three Republican who were/are taking the heat and doing what is Necessary for this Country. I truly can't believe or understand how the 37 Repbublicans can contine to be so LOW, that they are turning a deaf ear to the President and the American People, Is it Country First or Party?. President Obama has extend a hand, now unclench your old ways of Standing Against what is Right, America Needs you working for the Country not Against it. God Bless America and God Bless Our Commander-in-Chief.

    February 13, 2009 at 3:29 am |
  4. J.V.Hodgson

    Like it or not the Obama team and campaign have made clear thier intentions of franchising all voters who are properly eligible.
    This is clearly anathema to Gregg and the Republican establishment and Ideology. The simple fact is that the "additional" voters are more likely to be Democratic rather than Republican.
    Just watch the rhetoric and in fighting on this census issue and "quarterback Gregg" lead the disenfranchisement charge.
    Adding the stimulus plan negative vote is a red herring, his past economic votes meant he would oppose... so why in gods name did he put his name forward for Commerce Secretary in the first place?
    They were hoping Obama would not let him be nominated ( QED lacking Bi-patisan ship (they lost that) so what next ?He decides not to stay nominated and Republicans will say AhA lack of judgment from the President and too inexperienced. They will do the latter just watch. If they do they have moved another independent voter closer to being a full blooded democrat!
    Politics as usual, unfortunately and Republican remind me of a T shirt I had which was a picture of an Ostrich with its head in the sand and the caption was brilliant it said " leave me alone while I have a crisis".
    I wanna give all house and senate Republican members a T shirt!!

    February 13, 2009 at 2:41 am |
  5. Susan

    Am Glad this guy is out. As for bipartisan efforts from the president, God bless him amidst his foes.

    February 13, 2009 at 2:36 am |
  6. Linda, Arizona

    I am appalled at the game the GOP is playing. Didn't they notice that the majority of the American public voted for Obama and his ideas? By opposing him at every turn and not trying to find common ground, they are showing that they are all about party and not about this country. I am so ashamed of my Senators from Arizona, Kyl and McCain who talk about solutions, offer none and seem to forget that it was their policies of the last eight years that have brought this country to it's knees. Shame!

    February 13, 2009 at 1:07 am |
  7. Tina

    It is amazing to me that the Republicans are at War with Obama. Are they still living in that George W. bubble that they are in charge? They are so foolish and look like a bunch of sore losers. Senator Gregg makes their case for trying to embarrass the president. If they would just get on board and try to work with Obama they would be more appealing to younger voters and others who voted Democratic for the first time. But this business as usual at the expense of America makes them look out of touch. They're hoping for winning congress back in 2010! Try 2020. With this attitude no one will vote for Republicans.

    February 13, 2009 at 12:13 am |
  8. lcovell

    The thought of the GOP really playing at politics at such a critical time in our country is making me sick at heart. I would like to to give them all a swift kick but will settle for none of them being reelected! Let's start fresh. It certainly can not be any worse.

    February 12, 2009 at 11:31 pm |
  9. Rhonda

    What is going on in Washington right now is not evidence of a deep philosophical divide between Republicans and Democrats. It is evidence of an amazing refusal of the Republicans to come to grips with the fact they lost – the country repudiated the kind of politics they are practicing right now when they elected Barack Obama. And Republicans just can't accept that. Their behavior now reflects nothing more than bruised egos and an unseemly grasping for power at any price – including leaving America twisting in the wind.

    February 12, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  10. Joanne

    Gregg's withdrawal is pure obstructionist politics. It will backfire on the Republicans. President Obama's honesty and good will will prevail. And David Gergen is right - they should get a CEO in as Commerce Secretary.

    February 12, 2009 at 11:18 pm |
  11. Dennis

    Is it just me, or is it obvious to everyone? Judd Gregg agreed to be considered, in fact asked, for an appointment as Commerce Secretary, for the sole purpose of being in control of the census results. John, "The Fundamentals of our ECONOMY are Strong", McCain had to know, by proudly demonstrating his alignment with the "Bush Policy" (90%), he really had no chance of winning the White House, and he is no doubt probably, as most of us are, happy he didn’t! I also believe he knew, deep down inside, that he had no idea of what to do, and never believed he could do the work that needs to be done in this country! He was, perhaps, not the worst possible candidate the party in power at he time could put forth, but certainly he was not the best! I, and the Republicans, don’t know who their best is. If they had had a best, that person would now be President. I'm sure McCain would be running around, right now, between his 7 or so homes, like a chicken with his head cut off, if he had been surprisingly elected as President of OUR COUNTRY! Yet, he, under the guise of being the "Maverick", the bi-partisan, for the common good, if need be, Republican, is so quick to find fault with policy he, or his peers, never would have even been able to conceive. The last two elections read like the handwriting on the wall! The Republicans had their way for the past 8 years, and lead us into the depths of despair, in so many ways... I don't think I need to enumerate, but if you want, I will. Our President, Barrack Obama, asked for this! He asked for the opportunity to solve our woes, and we said,"Please do!. Meanwhile, those responsible for those woes, (Republicans), only are able to acknowledge the fact that this is not good for them! Sarah Palin? Ha ha ha... what a joke that is! The Republican Party, the G.O.P, as a whole are currently a thing of the past. They aren't Grand, and although their rhetoric is still Old, I'm pretty sure they are not having a Party right now. At least not a Party that the majority of America wants to attend. So.... Senator Judd Gregg. The Republican's best, (perhaps only),
    chance of regaining any seats in 2010 for the Republican party, is by redistricting the population to their advantage. In other words, ...so only "Republicans" count. When Senator Gregg was enlightened to the fact that the job of counting people would be moved out of his control, he no longer had a workable agenda, or let's say ...desire, to be in Obama's cabinet. Rather than openly support, and thereby lend confidence to the efforts and ideas of the current administration, John McSame, Senator Gregg, and the Republican's ass ( oops... typo ) ...as a whole, it appears, would rather sow the same seeds of divisiveness, fear, misdirection, doom and gloom, that have served them so well during the past 8 years. I'm not religious, but if it will helps, let me add, “Thank God for Barrack Obama”, and may "God Bless America"!

    February 12, 2009 at 11:14 pm |
  12. Ed connelly

    Don't you wonder whether the senator's recent withdrawal has a personal reason like income tax issues for his withdrawal? Whey don't you check it out? He may have thought he would be discovered.


    February 12, 2009 at 11:10 pm |
  13. Ronnie

    This was a token appointment anyway. It's convenient that the Census responsibilities being transferred to the White House wasn't announced prior to Gregg accepting the appointment. Gregg did the right thing by withdrawing and not becoming part of making the Census Count partisan...

    February 12, 2009 at 10:50 pm |
  14. R.on , West Coast

    I guess in the presence of Barack Obama and the others surrounding him , senator Gregg felt out of place , ...... He must of felt as though he was a mental midget , and not accustomed to being among people of intelligence . So..... he opted out , and decided he`d be much more comfortable around the usual unintelligent idiots of the republicrook senators in his party . Among those idiots , he`s like the reincarnation of Albert Eienstien !!!!!

    February 12, 2009 at 10:39 pm |
  15. Coco

    AGENDA, AGENDA. I've always said that the Republicans had an AGENDA, and that is to embarass the President. I'm not surprised by Judd Gregg pulling out. It was just a matter of time for him to act.

    President Obama has to be very careful of these men.

    February 12, 2009 at 10:36 pm |
  16. Miller

    I hope these republicans know that they are giving Obama
    the fuel he needs to try much harder, i have confidence in the PRESIDENT! (i know they like that! lol) i feel he will pull America out
    of this mess...oh and the GOP looks like children much more now then before.

    February 12, 2009 at 10:27 pm |
  17. Jamie

    Please pull your heads out of the sand.

    Did you all forget that census, the biggest part of being Comm. Sec. is being yanked out from under that offices rule?

    Of course he would say that isn't because it hasn't been made official and the guy doesn't want to look like a complete idiot. But when uber-partisan Rahm gets a hold of it I'm sure Mr. Gregg will have his own personal last laugh.

    February 12, 2009 at 10:18 pm |
  18. Sam Civiello

    War on Obama? Don't go there...Gregg saw how this bill was written. It's a disservice to all of us! He has legitimate disagreements with the direction the administration is going. This white house looks like a bunch of children. Let's hope they get their act together. Please don't try to blow this off as the fault of republicans.

    February 12, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  19. Darryl Atlanta, GA

    Not only did the Senator show a lack of moral conviction and personal accountability to the American people. He, in my opinion in girding and pledging his vote to the GOP.In the same "NO FLOW", "gridlocked" politics. Ultimately the oppressed stay down. And those who have plenty keeps their riches.

    February 12, 2009 at 9:57 pm |
  20. Dave

    Clearly he discovered that Obama's plans were more liberal than he could live with, but why he didn't realize that 2 weeks ago is amazing. Maybe he just couldn't stomach the upcoming $2-5 trillion dollar bill. I know I can't.

    February 12, 2009 at 9:24 pm |
  21. Rory

    Sen. Judd Gregg, Count the price before you start building something.
    I am convinced that All the republicans have their own agenda. That Agenda is to be a thorn in the flesh of Obama even at the expense of the American people. Right now i think the republicans are doing very risky business.

    February 12, 2009 at 9:21 pm |
  22. steve

    he made a mistake in taking it in the first place. he figured out obama didn't trust him anyway, since he took the 2010 censes away from the commerce dept. and put it in the hands of his #1 politico hack emanual. the dems can sink this ship all by themselves.

    February 12, 2009 at 9:06 pm |
  23. N. Ferguson

    I think it is time for the President to stop reaching across the aisle to a group of vipers who are sore and not focused on the good of the country. President Obama has a job to do and that job is hindered by games the republicans are playing. Our country has serious issues that must be addressed and it is inexcusable for elected officials to portend bipartisanship when they really are entrenched in partisan politics. Publicly everyone wants to see this administration succeed but behind the scenes behaviors and television grandstanding belies their unwillingness to changing the way Washington does business. Good riddance to Gregg and I hope the President completes his cabinet with people who deserve a chance to serve. Those who are suffering can not wait.

    February 12, 2009 at 8:51 pm |
  24. Al

    Smart move if the #1 objective is to help the Republican Party win. He surely demonstrated he is a Republican team player, as noted in the article . . . "A Republican aide familiar with the decision adds that Gregg has been privately consulting with Republican leaders about this move for the “past couple of days” before making final decision today."

    Not a smart move if the #1 objective is to help the U.S. win. Gregg ran off the field at a time when our Country is facing the toughest challenge of a lifetime. Of course, so did all the Republicans, except three brave Senators.

    February 12, 2009 at 8:46 pm |
  25. trisha soebbing shryock

    Gregg need to replace the Dachle vacancy- pronto-hope it happens!!

    February 12, 2009 at 8:42 pm |
  26. Robert - Jakarta

    Wow! Big surprise. The GOP still lives in 1994. This past two weeks proves definitively that the GOP doesn't believe in governance but instead cling to their flawed ideology of bankrupting government. They have had no great awakening since the election. Instead, they want to be the contrarian party.

    If Gregg truly believed in effecting change, and the Commerce department was in his narrow-minded sights, he could have pursued those interests while acting as a cabinet member. Instead, he chose to return to the class of screaming meemies.

    The Republicans still don't get it and now they are slowly headed toward the fate of the doo-doo bird. Happy last flightless days, GOP!

    February 12, 2009 at 8:38 pm |
  27. Susan

    Power grab by the White House to remove the 2010 census from the Commerce Department. Information obtained through the census should not be used for political purposes. I do not blame him for withdrawing his name. In fact I applaud him for his guts.

    February 12, 2009 at 8:30 pm |

    Gregg left under pressure from the Republicans. They are not interested in any bipartisanship. They just want Obama to fail! You see they forget that Obama's failure will only mean him losing an election but it has a generational consequences for the entire country.

    sioux city, IA

    February 12, 2009 at 7:57 pm |
  29. ray

    Good riddance. Maybe we can get someone not part of the crew who helped create this mess or even someone who payed his taxes and didn't get caught taking kick backs – just maybe.

    February 12, 2009 at 7:35 pm |
  30. Mike, Syracuse NY

    The census has been controlled by the Commerce Department for over 100 years. Now with a Republican to be in charge of Commerce, the White House wanted to yank it. Who's playing politics here?

    February 12, 2009 at 7:09 pm |
  31. Annie Kate

    With the economy as bad as it is maybe he just didn't want to be that closely identified with the Obama administration. He looks pretty wishy-washy after having gone after the nomination and then dropping out of it – glad he's out of it.

    February 12, 2009 at 7:05 pm |
  32. Luis

    Heres what happened:

    He probably didn't pay his taxes.

    February 12, 2009 at 6:46 pm |
  33. Linda B., Ga.

    Perhaps Sen. Gregg is hiding something that he didn't want us to find out about.

    IF he isn't going to support what Pres. Obama stands for, then it is best that he got out...

    February 12, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  34. Stephen Shane Hawkins

    republicans read "team of rivals" and saw an opening to embarrass a president!

    February 12, 2009 at 6:09 pm |
  35. sherry, northern Calif.

    Who cares? We got the wrong guy for job. Let's move on and quit spinning the incident. Bigger fish to fry on Wall St.

    February 12, 2009 at 6:07 pm |
  36. Lori from IL

    Wow - if Senator Gregg didn't know where the W.H. stood on the stimulus and census before campaigning for the position of Commerce Secretary - then I'm glad he resigned. Our country has too much at stake right now.

    We all know that the Republicans are unhappy with the current administration. They have made it abundantely clear. President Obama has been attempting to extend an open hand across the aisle - only to have it slapped away with a closed fist. So much for working together for the good of the country.

    February 12, 2009 at 6:02 pm |
  37. Marvin

    like others have said he's not for servin the country....he's for his party....

    February 12, 2009 at 5:57 pm |
  38. earle,florida

    Good riddance,...

    February 12, 2009 at 5:55 pm |
  39. Sharon L Hill, Deltona, FL

    Maybe he figured out he wouldn't be able to push the Republican agenda.

    February 12, 2009 at 5:51 pm |
  40. Peter Makinde

    Gregg is a dissapointment to the older folks. I'm 36yrs and I'm sure with this attitude I can never be a republican. I heard him repeat words like me, me, me, myself, myself, in his press conference. Gregg, this is not about you. It mustn't be republican way all the time. This is about all of us Americans. Learn how to serve citizens of both parties-not just your party.

    February 12, 2009 at 5:49 pm |
  41. Janice Grounds

    This is good news. I was more suprised by the pick than I am the withdrawl. For him not to vote on the Economic Recovery Plan made me think something was up and I wasn't happy that President Obama's Commerce Sec 'recused' himself from a vote like this.

    February 12, 2009 at 5:40 pm |
  42. William of Iowa

    Well, you can serve yourself – serve your political party or serve the people of the United States of America. Seems Mr. Gregg chose the later. We the people will be better for it.

    February 12, 2009 at 5:37 pm |
  43. Eric From BC

    If the Senator is off base from a philisophical perspective then it is best to know that now and thus quit while both he and the president are ahead. His reasons will no doubt provide grist for the mill and it will be interesting to see where his ideals fall as time goes on...

    February 12, 2009 at 5:36 pm |