Obama: Gregg's Withdrawal 'Something of a Surprise'

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2009 5:47 PM CST
President Barack Obama pauses before speaking at the Caterpillar plant in East Peoria, Ill., Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – President Obama—now 0 for 2 on commerce nominations—said Judd Gregg's decision to back out today came as a "something of a surprise," the State Journal-Register of Springfield reports. "The truth, you know, Mr. Gregg approached us with interest and seemed enthusiastic," said Obama. The Republican senator told Politico he felt he "couldn't be Judd Gregg" as commerce chief because of "irresolvable" differences in philosophy with the president.

Unlike Tom Daschle's withdrawal, the president did not issue a joint announcement with Gregg, a sign of tension between the camps, Politico notes. Gregg reportedly met privately with the president this morning to suggest he'd be dropping out. He said any fault lies with himself. "I may have embarrassed myself, but hopefully not him," said Gregg. One person happy with the turn of events is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: "It's great to have him back."