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Another Cabinet pick quits on Obama

ADD this to Barack Obama's to-do list: Find a commerce secretary -- for a third time.

Republican Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire backed out on Thursday, citing "irresolvable conflicts" with the new Democratic president's policies.

That was just one week after Obama tapped him for the post the president originally gave to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. He withdrew after the disclosure that a grand jury is investigating allegations of wrongdoing in the awarding of contracts in his state. Now, it's anyone's guess who will fill the job - or when.

The search for a commerce secretary has never yielded a large number of prospective candidates. There were few names batted around before Richardson was announced as Obama's top choice last year. And, when he abandoned his bid in early January, there was little speculation about a replacement until Gregg's name surfaced a full month later.

"The president asked me to do it," Gregg said of the job offer during a news conference. "I said yes. That was my mistake."

Obama offered a somewhat different account.

"It comes as something of a surprise, because ... Mr. Gregg approached us with interest and seemed enthusiastic," Obama said.

Gregg was one of three Republicans Obama had put in his Cabinet to emphasize his campaign pledge that he would be an agent of bipartisan change.


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