Former US Senator Tom Daschle has withdrawn his candidature as President Barack Obama’s new health secretary after a row over unpaid taxes. “It was completely inadvertent, but that is no excuse,” Daschle told reporters. The President accepted the withdrawal with “sadness and regret” just hours after tax affairs also prompted Nancy Killefer – nominated to the budget watchdog – to pull out.
Republicans have been quick to make political capital out of the situation. Republican Senator John Ensign said: “I personally think that Senator Daschle was going to face some tough questions and I think he saved the President from being embarrassed next week in a public hearing.”
Obama says the withdrawals show that under his administration there are not two sets of rules: one for public figures and another for ordinary people. However, Timothy Geithner was sworn in as Treasury Secretary last week despite owing tens of thousands in back taxes until shortly before his nomination.