Deep-Red Gregg Is a Strange Fit for Obama

Commerce nom tried to get rid of agency, but is bridge to big business
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 4, 2009 1:53 PM CST
President Barack Obama listens to Sen. Judd Gregg, left, a New Hampshire Republican, speak, after the president announced Gregg as his choice for commerce secretary yesterday.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Judd Gregg is a fairly bizarre choice for commerce secretary, Pete Engardio writes in BusinessWeek, considering the Republican senator once called for the elimination of the Commerce Department. Gregg is a true fiscal conservative, who’s voted against bills to tighten emission standards, raise taxes on gas producers, and negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare. In other words, the ideological gap is wide.

At first, Obama’s pick seemed to be a plan to get Democrats a 60-seat Senate majority—though a Republican’s been nominated to replace him. Obama does get a strong contrarian voice, and some added credit with the business community. But don’t expect Gregg to hinder Obama’s agenda. “He is loyal,” said one lobbyist. “He knows he needs to reflect the president’s views.”