Former Gov. Granholm, noting past swipes at GOP, dismisses Cabinet talk

Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) is strongly downplaying the prospect of working in President Obama’s second-term Cabinet, noting that her swipes at Republicans as host of a left-leaning TV show could make Senate confirmation messy.

Granholm, until last week, hosted “The War Room” on Current TV, the Al Gore-founded network recently sold to Al Jazeera.

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Asked about speculation that she might be nominated for secretary of Energy or another post, Granholm cited former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel (R), Obama’s nominee for Defense secretary who has been roughed up by Republicans during his ongoing confirmation process

“I can just tell you watching these confirmation hearings over the past week, over the past couple of weeks, if you think it was hard getting Hagel confirmed, somebody who has run a progressive talk show for the past year, probably poking a few Republicans in the eye, probably some of those Republicans who might be potentially casting a vote, I might be a little bit of a tough charge, but I am going to do all sorts of stuff serving on the outside for sure,” she said in an interview broadcast Sunday on Platts Energy Week TV.

Granholm, who gave a fiery, well-received speech at last summer’s Democratic National Convention, has been mentioned as a possible nominee for secretary of Energy, Labor or Transportation.

Asked if she has heard from the Obama administration, Granholm responded, “I know there has been inquiry,” before noting her reaction to the Senate process and her criticism of Republicans on TV.

But it’s not clear if she was referring to discussions with White House officials or getting pestered by journalists.

The former two-term governor, while not flatly ruling out a Cabinet job, also noted on Platts that she is likely to become the national clean energy spokesperson for the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Granholm has previously been a senior adviser to the group on energy policy, but noted in the interview that another stint is “not a done deal yet.”

Most of the Platts interview focused on an idea Granholm has been pushing to boost state green energy efforts at a time when major legislation to overhaul national energy policy faces very dim prospects on Capitol Hill.

She is calling for a $4.5 billion “clean energy jobs race to the top” federal grant program to seed state-based efforts, an idea Granholm also talked up at an Energy Department event in January.

It’s modeled on the popular “Race to the Top” competitive grant program for education that was part of the big 2009 stimulus law. It provides money to states that are adopting various education reforms and innovating around standards, teacher development and other areas.

Granholm wants to adopt the idea for energy, making the money available to states that agree, perhaps, to create “clean energy standards” consistent with Obama’s proposal for a national standard that would require 80 percent of U.S. electricity to come from low-carbon sources by 2035.

“That, to me, would cause a national energy strategy, but from the bottom up,” she said.

“This would allow governors to do an assessment of their clean energy resources. You know that we have got different resource opportunities all across the country. You could have Idaho be the number one state for geothermal, you could have Arizona and New Mexico and the Sun Belt states be the number one region for solar production, you could have the Midwest, the industrial states, be the number one area for battery production, for electric vehicles,” she said.

“Every region has something to offer. This would respect those regions,” Granholm said. “You know those Republican and Democratic governors would bend over backwards to get their members of Congress to support their ability to vie for a pot of money that allows them to create jobs.”