Tom Daschle Withdraws Nomination for HHS Secretary
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It was the right thing to do. And it speaks really well of Obama that he didn't put personal loyalty above principle.
More from Sam Stein Rachel Weiner at HuffPo:
Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination on Tuesday to be President Barack Obama's Health and Human Services secretary, faced with problems over back taxes and potential conflicts of interest.
"Now we must move forward," Obama said in a written statement accepting Daschle's surprise request to be removed from consideration. A day earlier, Obama had said he "absolutely" stood by Daschle.
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.
Moments after the news was announced, Andrea Mitchell of NBC News said she had just spoken to Daschle, who told her, "I read the New York Times this morning and I realized that I can't pass health care if I am too much of a distraction ... I called the president this morning." Mitchell described the call as emotional, and said Daschle was near tears.
The stunning news of Daschle's withdrawal came before Obama had conducted his planned Oval Office interviews with five television news outlets, the White House press office confirmed. The goal of those interviews was to help drum up support for the stimulus. Now it seems likely that Obama will be spending much of his time talking about the tax problems of three of his appointees and the withdrawal of one of his earliest supporters.