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Gregg Withdraws as Commerce Nominee

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Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire abruptly withdrew his nomination as commerce secretary Thursday, the third Cabinet-level pick scuttled. The move left President Barack Obama without a full team to lead the government. Video by AP

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The news broke as Obama was on the floor of a Caterpillar Inc. plant in East Peoria talking up his stimulus plan. White House aides traveling with him did not respond reporter's inquiries, until Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued a statement about an hour later.

"Senator Gregg reached out to the President and offered his name for secretary of commerce," the statement read. "He was very clear throughout the interviewing process that despite past disagreements about policies, he would support, embrace, and move forward with the president's agenda. Once it became clear after his nomination that Senator Gregg was not going to be supporting some of President Obama's key economic priorities, it became necessary for Senator Gregg and the Obama administration to part ways. We regret that he has had a change of heart."

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, in a phone call from the trip with Obama to Illinois late Thursday, said Gregg's exit had not dealt a blow to the president's effort to build a bipartisan coalition.

"I'm standing in East Peoria with Ray LaHood," Gibbs said, referring to the Republican Secretary of Transportation. "This president remains committed to working with members on both sides of the aisle to get things done that are important for the American people," Gibbs said.

Just days ago, Gregg stood side-by-side with the president to accept the nomination as commerce secretary and declared that partisanship should not get in the way of repairing the country's

problems.

"This is not a time for partisanship. This is not a time when we should stand in our ideological corners and shout at each other," Gregg said on Feb. 3. "This is a time to govern and govern well. And therefore, when the President asked me to join his administration and participate in trying to address the issues of this time, I believed it was my obligation to say yes, and I look forward to it with enthusiasm."


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