WASHINGTON (CNN) - A source close to the process says that the idea of removing the census from Commerce and having it “run” out of the White House was taken as a slap in the face by Judd Gregg. “It was like saying they don’t trust you” with such a political issue, says the source.
This source says those who wanted Gregg - including chief of staff Rahm Emanuel - believed that in choosing him, the Obama team would be "taking the opposition’s quarterback off the field.”
“They have to take some of the blame for this," says a Democratic source close to the White House. "They almost humiliated him by taking the census away from him.”
However, adds this source, Gregg’s decision to recuse himself on stimulus was not taken well at the White House either — it was seen as an insult to them.
One GOP Senate aide confirms the census was the straw that broke the camel’s back - a sign, as this person put it, that the White House is not committed to bipartisanship. The aide characterized it as “a major blunder by the administration.”
“Can you imagine what would happen if the Bush administration would’ve given (Karl) Rove control of the census? People would have set their hair on fire,” said the Republican source, suggesting that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel - former head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee - would have tried to control the census for political advantage.