February 3rd, 2009
03:18 PM ET
5 years ago

Daschle withdrawal stuns Democrats

Former Senate colleagues of Tom Daschle said Tuesday they were shocked by his sudden decision to withdraw from consideration as President Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Former Senate colleagues of Tom Daschle said Tuesday they were shocked by his sudden decision to withdraw from consideration as President Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services.

(CNN) – Former Senate colleagues of Tom Daschle said Tuesday they were shocked by his sudden decision to withdraw from consideration as President Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services.

"I'm in shock. I didn't know that. I don't know what happened," said California Sen. Diane Feinstein. "I talked to him the night before last, and he showed no signs of withdrawing."

Some, like Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus, said they still believed Daschle would have survived the nomination process. "I was a little stunned,” said the Montana senator. Baucus and the rest of the Finance Committee met privately with Daschle last night to address the questions over his failure to pay some taxes. “I thought he was going to get confirmed. I thought - he's a good man and I thought he'd be confirmed. I'm surprised."

Listen: Feinstein 'in shock'


Sen. John Kerry said the former Senate Majority Leader was disqualified on a technicality. “We're getting silly here, and I think people ought to step back and measure these things against the larger picture,” he said. “He's made his decision, I respect his decision and we go on from there."

Listen: Kerry reacts


But GOP Sen. John Cornyn said Daschle “did a service to President Obama” by withdrawing his name. Cornyn was one of a number of Republicans to oppose Daschle’s nomination over the tax issue.

Listen: Cornyn reacts to Daschle


"I think it really would have looked bad for the Senate to close ranks around a fellow member and sort of reinforce the idea that they were going to protect a member as part of the good ole boys club," said Cornyn.


Filed under: Tom Daschle
soundoff (108 Responses)
  1. down with corporate politics

    It is a shock to realize a president that has been made into an deity by his own campaigning, can be subject to human failings.

    But that is the penalty of running on such a platform. At a certain point, your followers need to grow up.

    February 3, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  2. chris@stl

    Kudos to Mr. Daschle .... You did the right thing!

    February 3, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  3. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    That's a shame......he's a good man that had the potential to accomplish great things in that role.

    February 3, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  4. obama-mama

    I thought Daschle would have done a great job regardless of the tax issue. Cornyn needs to shut his mouth.

    February 3, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  5. SEA

    Daschle knew he had those unpaid taxes before he accepted Obama's nomination, he should have withdraw even if he probably is a good person for the job. However, if poor little average citizen me had back taxes, I would be in jail, lose everything I have or worse. Maybe if they checked the background of all the politicians in Washington, the National Budget would have a surplus!!!!!!!!

    February 3, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  6. Boston Irish

    Why would anyone be dismayed he withdrew? Sounds like that would be the decent thing to do. Oh, maybe they are amazed that a Democrat would do the decent thing. Sounds like being a crook is fine with them, just as long as he's a Demorat. Now, before everyone starts griping because I am slamming the Democrats, I am a registered Democrat and always have been. I consider myself a "smart" Democrat. I don't vote for the party, I vote for the person. By the way the Democrats are defending these crooks, that must be unheard of in their circle of friends. Maybe they should get in another line of work or pick better circles to hang out in. OBAMA included!!

    February 3, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  7. christine

    Our president is for the people. He did not create this problem and all these people had their issues before he got there. It is what he will do going forward that will make the change. Why the sudden concern about all the people that was propped up as honorable for years. If the washingtonites will allow the president to do his job we will all be better for it. He will hold his cabinet to the highest standard on his watch. He can't help what happened on someone elses watch.

    February 3, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  8. Trish - PA

    What a shame this is. This man had the knowledge and experience to really get something done with healthcare. I am certainly not keen on what he did, but he did make good and pay what he owed. And it's not like President Obama has a lot of choices. Everyone is picking apart and criticizing every choice that he makes. It's not his fault that most politicians are corrupt. He has to pick someone. Would they rather he picked some moron with no experience? He picked who he thought would be able to best handle the position. Can you imagine him trying to find cabinet members who all had squeeky clean records? these are politicians! 95% of them have a black mark or two against them. Including Hillary Clinton and yes, the war hero, John McCain. They all have done dishonrable things. Give the man a break. He is doing the best that he can and trying very hard to fix this mess that we are in.

    February 3, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  9. H & R Crock

    "For want of a 1099, the kindom was lost"?

    February 3, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  10. Adversity Makes You Stronger

    This is the right outcome for an administration committed to changing from business-as-usual in Washington.

    This is what accountability, responsibility and consequences for actions looks like.

    The high ethics standard remains.

    February 3, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  11. Nick

    Democrats should get use to this – it's called ETHICAL BEHAVIOR. I know, it's a new concept in government, but when you've done something wrong and have questionable ties to the people you're supposed to regulate, it's the RIGHT thing to do.

    February 3, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  12. christine

    It would serve the republicans well to know that we the people do not forget that the did not have a solution for eight years. This attempt to block our president is appauling. We will not forget that it was these self-serving actions that got us here in the first place.
    We also will not forget in 4 or 8 years from now that they are also prolonged urgently needed progress for media talking points.

    February 3, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  13. honestly

    OK by me. The guy's been around forever, and I don't think he has the motivation to understand the 'fierce urgency of now' when it comes to revamping the health care nightmare.

    February 3, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  14. Dan

    Don't be stunned, pay your taxes!

    February 3, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  15. Franky

    I bet they weren't as surprised when my boy took the nomination, LOL!! Come on guys, let's go watch Rocky and Bullwinkle real quick, plus, my little nephew came so the boys are putting the tape in...

    Come on guys, let's go watch Rocky and Bullwinkle...

    More jokes on the way coming right up later on...

    February 3, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  16. Joe

    Funny how the democrats are staunch supporters of increased taxation, but can't seem to pay them themselves.

    Or maybe it's not all that funny.

    February 3, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  17. John

    You liberals thought the republicans and bush were bad. They are saints compared to the crooks running the governement now. Watch a year or so from now. Obama's popularity will be lower than Bush's.
    America made a great mistake...

    February 3, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  18. mike truesdell

    why are all these washington insiders not paying their full taxes? How many others are out their? We need to stimulate the Irs! Might not need all this stimulus .

    February 3, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  19. Adversity Makes you Strong if You're Caught lol

    This is what should have happened with Geithner but blind ambition will and does make people make poor decisions. At least in the Daschle case it shows that inappropriate actions do have consequences.

    February 3, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  20. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia

    They all write bad checks at the congressional bank. This whole thing has been a joke.

    We are so desparate to believe that someone could be honest and ethical and it was just like King said...

    a dream.

    Obama is fast becoming a major disappointment. The democrats, per usual, look like a bunch of buffoons and the Republicans are looking like saints.

    February 3, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  21. Dr. John W. Hartman

    Daschle's withdrawal just confirms there are other dire corrupt "skeletons in his closet" that he doesn't want to come out. If only the other nefarious socialist, corrupt, tax cheat, and unethical politicians who have been nominated by Obama would refuse to serve, he wouldn't have a Cabinet – thus saving the taxpayers money!

    February 3, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  22. Matthew Truth

    I dont care if you are a Republican or a Democrat. We need honest people with integrity. Obama wants to clean this up than he better start right now. Richardson is going to be Indicted, the last 3 are a joke. Find some honest people and move on. Everyone I know pays their taxes unless they are trying to scam the goverment. Move on and pick someone honest.

    February 3, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  23. dimes

    Democrats stunned that not paying taxes is wrong or a big issue. This was not an honest mistake. He did not pay over 130,000 in taxes and when he acknowlaged it last summer he still did not pay

    February 3, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  24. Big Al

    Good riddance! Nothing but a tax evading lobbyist.

    February 3, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  25. Patrick Henry

    Good riddance.

    February 3, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
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