Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination on Tuesday to be President Barack Obama's Health and Human Services secretary, dealing potential blows to both speedy health care reform and Obama's hopes for a smoother start as president.
"Now we must move forward," Obama said in a written statement accepting "with sadness and regret" Daschle's surprise request to be removed from consideration.
A day earlier, Obama had said he "absolutely" stood by Daschle in the face of problems over back taxes and potential conflicts of interest.
Daschle, the former Senate Democratic leader and a strong backer of Obama's presidential bid, said he would have been unable to operate "with the full faith of Congress and the American people."
"I am not that leader, and will not be a distraction" to Obama's agenda, he said.
Obama had given Daschle two jobs—to be White House health czar on top of the post leading the Health and Human Services Department—and Daschle is relinquishing the czar post too.
Daschle's stunning statement came less than three hours after another Obama nominee also withdrew from consideration, and also over tax problems. Nancy Killefer, nominated by Obama to be the government's first chief performance officer, said she didn't want her bungling of payroll taxes on her household help to be a distraction.
Daschle was the third high-profile Obama nominee to bow out. Obama initially had tapped Bill Richardson to be Commerce secretary, but the
The entire AP story’s here.
My first thoughts:
Daschle’s withdrawal was called for and a smart move.
Opposition to Daschle’s nomination was growing and would’ve gotten stronger.
This morning’s NY Times’ editorial advising him to withdraw would surely have been followed by scores, if not hundreds, of newspapers telling him the same thing.
Not all the sleaze/scandal surrounding Daschle has hit the headlines yet. For instance, he claimed a homeowner’s tax break available only to DC residents at the same time he was a Senator from
Daschle has more than tax problems. In the past few years he’s taken maga-bucks from health provider interests. Whatever his friends want to call it, most of the public see it as influence peddling.
Daschle’s problems hurt President Obama on two counts: 1) they make a mockery of the “Change” image Obama wants to project; and 2) Daschle’s nomination has given the public reason to question Obama’s judgment.
By withdrawing, Daschle limits the damage to Obama.
Sen. Chris Dodd must be relieved he won’t have to vote to confirm his pal.
Rep. Charles Rangel has to be happy no reporter can now ask him: “Do you see any reason why Daschle’s tax problems should disqualify him from holding a public office?”