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Obama Picks Gregg For Commerce Secretary

President Obama on Tuesday announced another Republican appointee to his Cabinet, saying as commerce secretary that Sen. Judd Gregg would be a trusted member of the Cabinet who shares an urgent desire to get Americans "back on their feet."

If confirmed, the 61-year-old New Hampshire Republican could help Obama push past GOP resistance to the more than $800 billion economic stimulus package winding its way through Congress.

Obama joked that Gregg was "famous, or infamous on Capitol Hill for his strict fiscal discipline," adding that the two "agree on the urgent need to get businesses and families back on their feet."

Gregg's reputation as a fiscal conservative could bolster the administration's credibility among Republicans who have objected to the stimulus plan's price tag. He helped craft the Wall Street bailout last year and was one of a handful of Republicans who voted to release the second half of the $700 billion financial rescue package to the new administration.

Now is the time to put aside "stale ideology and partisan politics," Obama said.

Gregg will be charged with helping promote U.S. business at home and abroad and will have a voice in crafting administration policy. He currently is the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee.

The nominee praised Obama for his administration's "bold, comprehensive plan to get this country moving again." He said it was "a time to govern and govern well."

Gregg had said he would not accept the appointment if a Democrat were appointed to serve out his Senate term.

On Monday, New Hampshire's Democratic Gov. John Lynch said there's an "understanding" that he'll nominate a Republican replacement for Gregg so as not to upset the current political makeup of the Senate. Bonnie Newman, a former chief of staff to Gregg, is expected to serve out the remaining two years of his term and not run for another.

Obama's first pick for commerce secretary, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, withdrew from consideration in January in the face of a legal inquiry in an embarrassing misstep for the incoming administration.

Two Obama picks, Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer, withdrew their nominations on Tuesday because they ran into trouble with tax problems. Daschle, who had been tapped for health and human services, withdrew Tuesday afternoon hours after Killefer, who had been picked for the post of chief performance officer, had retracted her name from consideration.

Timothy Geithner also faced questions about his taxes before he won Senate confirmation as Obama's Treasury secretary.

From NPR staff and wire reports

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