Who first suggested that Sen. Judd Gregg would make a good Commerce Secretary?
It's a minor footnote to the brief, awkward effort to bring the New Hampshire conservative into the Democratic administration. But it is a question that has dogged some reporters in the hours after Gregg withdrew his nomination.
Sean Quinn at FiveThirtyEight reported on Friday that chief of staff Rahm Emanuel "said the idea for Gregg as Commerce Secretary had come to the White House through Harry Reid, that it was not the White House's original idea." But as Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake noted, Obama's press secretary Robert Gibbs said on Thursday that, "Gregg had approached the White House for the job. And in an interview with the State Journal-Register of Illinois Thursday, President Obama confirmed that. "'You know, Mr. Gregg approached us with interest and seemed enthusiastic,' the president said."
So who had the initial idea: Gregg or Reid?
I asked Reid's spokesman, Jim Manley to help me clear the air of confusion. And this is what he had to say: Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel "asked for ideas" and "Reid suggested Gregg as a possibility."
Had Gregg ever expressed interest in being Commerce Secretary to Reid? "I don't believe he ever did," Manley replied.
So, there you have it. Reid suggested Gregg after being prompted by Emanuel for names -- confirming a New York Times report from when the nomination was first floated. Gregg had, it seems, not aimed for the post until he was put forth by the Majority Leader.