President Obama nominated Daschle as Secretary of Health and Human Services on Dec. 11, tasking him to lead the country’s health care reform. But when reports surfaced that Daschle failed to pay nearly $140,000 in back taxes, he became concerned the controversy would distract from the administration’s agenda.
“Tom made a mistake, which he has openly acknowledged,” Obama said. “He has not excused it, nor do I.”
In a statement, Daschle said, “But if 30 years of exposure to the challenges inherent in our system has taught me anything, it has taught me that this work will require a leader who can operate with the full faith of Congress and the American people, and without distraction.
“Right now, I am not that leader, and will not be a distraction. The focus of Congress should be on the urgent business of moving the President’s economic agenda forward, including affordable health care for every American,” he said.
In several Feb. 3 television interviews, Obama said he made a mistake and stressed that he did not want to send the message that there are two set of standards, one for politicians and one for everyday American citizens.