WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama nominated Republican Sen. Judd Gregg to be Commerce secretary on Tuesday, a bipartisan gesture that the Democratic president stressed was necessary with the economy in a virtual free fall.
"Clearly Judd and I don't agree on every issue, most notably who should have won the election," Obama said in the White House's grand foyer with Gregg and Vice President Joe Biden at his side. "But we do agree on the urgent need to get American businesses and families back on their feet. We see eye to eye on conducting the nation's business in a responsible, transparent and accountable manner."
If confirmed by the Senate, Gregg would complete an administration team charged with steering the nation out of a recession now in its second year and take over a sprawling Commerce Department tasked with job creation. He also would be the third Republican in the Democrat's Cabinet, joining Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Obama initially had tapped Bill Richardson for the Commerce job, but the New Mexico governor withdrew his nomination amid a grand jury investigation into a state contract awarded to his political donors.
New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, will appoint a Senate successor. Officials in the state say he will tap Bonnie Newman.