- The Washington Times - Friday, February 13, 2009

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Hours after his pick for commerce secretary dropped out of consideration, President Barack Obama joked that maybe Abraham Lincoln would have liked the job.

Obama was speaking during a dinner honoring the 16th president on the 200th anniversary of his birth.

“In 1854, Lincoln was simply a Springfield lawyer who’d served just a single term in Congress,” Obama began as he tried to imagine Lincoln writing famous words about national unity.

“Possibly in his law office, his feet on a cluttered desk, his sons playing around him, his clothes a bit too small to fit his uncommon frame, maybe wondering if somebody might call him up and ask him to be commerce secretary …” Obama said, trailing off and sparking applause and laughter.

Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., withdrew as his commerce nominee on Thursday, surprising Obama and those in his administration. The Republican senator, Obama’s third Cabinet nominee to withdraw, said there were too many conflicts with Obama’s economic agenda.

Obama was eager to turn back to Lincoln, one of his favorite historical figures.

“He put some thoughts on paper for what purpose we do not know: ‘The legitimate object of government,’ he wrote, ‘is to do for the people what needs to be done, but which they can not, by individual effort, do at all, or do so well, by themselves

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