February 3rd, 2009
03:18 PM ET
9 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. andy

    Tears for a lack of a double=standard. Why can't a Democrat do something a Republican would be crucified for? It wasn't just the car and driver, but several other tax issues as well, and the honest mistake nonsense just doesn't hold water. Which mistake is he confessing? Richardson, Geithner and now Daschle.. It has to stop somewhere,,,Otherwise, Blago is next in line!

    February 3, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  2. JW

    To Chistine:

    When you say "We the people"...don't count me or mine there....!!
    The ethics I see displayed by the circus in Washington is appalling....maybe it's not Obama's fault...maybe he is just blind to the fact that "TAXES ARE OUR PATRIOTIC DUTY"...oops !!! I didn't say it...Joe did...and Barack did!!!

    My thought here is, give Obama a little time....but, the people around him are not "voted" in...they'd better ALL be investigated, be they Republicans or Democrats....

    To me I just see, Same Old, Same Old.........

    I'd like to see some CHANGE !!!!!

    Instead all I see is elitist B.S. and a "rookie" in the chair....

    Get a grip, open your eyes....quit being a lemming, think for yourself....!!

    Now that would benefit us all !!!

    February 3, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  3. not a little sad, actually quite happy

    @Nick February 3rd, 2009 3:00 pm ET

    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.


    As opposed to the stonewalling of the last administration?

    February 3, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  4. Romney2012

    His withdrawal only stuns democrats because they see nothing wrong with his criminal behavior; birds of a feather and all.....you idiots! The guy's a crook! He would have NEVER paid the taxes if not appointed...just like Geithner and the "efficiency Officer (that title is a riot....Efficiency Officer....for a liberal, overstuffed, overspending democratic administration...hahaha)

    February 3, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  5. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Don't Washington scandals usually end in 'gate' now? Can I be the first to call the Daschle, Geitner, Kellefer affair Taxgate?

    February 3, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  6. Phil


    I love how the average citizen is not exempt from such mistakes, but the Obamanation on here seem to think it was just an honest mistake. Give me a break. Two candidates with tax paying problems and Obama did nothing to stop it. I don't care for Daschle, but at least he had some fiber in his being to man up and withdraw. So now our Treasury has a tax cheat running it. Very fiscal! Obama is proving that he is no different than any other politician. All those promises...hahaha!

    February 3, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  7. howie

    Let me see, Daschle, Rangle, Jefferson, Geithner, Blog, Kennedy. Wonder what democrat will be next in line??????

    February 3, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  8. Wide Awake American

    Dear Mr. President

    We admire your ethics and your discipline.

    Unfortunatly there is no one left to vet, Shameful to say, there is no one in this business of government or leadership in the past 30 years who hasnt cheated, lied, or stole to get to where they are now.

    Please go away, so we can keep our high paying tax funded jobs.

    Thanks, The Players

    February 3, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  9. Bob Bruce

    In light of the recent cases of income tax evasion which have been reported, perhaps it would be in the public's best interest to have all elected officials sign a contract acknowledging that they understand they WILL BE AUDITED EVERY YEAR by the IRS….. further, an immediate IRS audit of every single senator and congressman should be ordered by the new president, if that is within his power.
    I guess we'd have to write to our congressmen or senators first and request it be made law….oh, yeah…nevermind. Fat chance that would happen.

    February 3, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  10. Morgan, Colorado

    I think people need to relax about people's mistakes. Yes Daschle and everyone should have known better, but he's human. I bet we can find something on everyone especially bloggers here to make a stink about. What seems to be loss is that these people came out and said hey I made this mistake and I'm going to fix it. Obama had the good soul to forgive them and support them. He displayed the Christian value of agape love.

    February 3, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  11. Bill

    Finally, someone with a shred of decency and did what was right.

    February 3, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  12. Allen in Hartwell GA

    I think the country would have better served if the nominee for Treasury Secretary had withdrawn instead. I think Daschle would have made a good addition to the president's team. But, under the circumstances I think that Daschle did the best thing for the president.
    Now, would anyone else under consideration for a position please quietly inform the president's team and withdraw their names before the press gets word of it!!!

    February 3, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  13. A soon to be former republican

    I congratulate Senator Daschle for doing the right thing! I believe his tax issue was not only a distraction but was perpetrated knowingly. With that being said, I wish all of you people slamming him and the Democratic party would take a look back at recent history, can you say "Haliburton" ,the no bid contracts to our former VP's company was a far more outrageous act than was a failure to pay all of the taxes owed by Mr. Daschle.

    February 3, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  14. In Houston, TX

    I see the detractors are out in full force maximizing every little negative thing they can muster on the Obama administration. They want to take the shine off this man and expose him for (what they hope) the fraud he is. But, know this. All of the bad things that have happened so far is nothing compared to how much you guys sucked when you were in office.

    I have never had a problem with the IRS, but I only have to use that easy form and I use turbo tax with that. If I had to use that long form, god knows how many mistakes I would make and I am sure many of you can say the same.

    But these people who work in government should do better. There is no excuse.

    February 3, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  15. Melissa from New Orleans

    Wow, a politian actually taking responsibility for wrong actions... who'dve thunk that would ever happen.

    Something we would have never seen from the previous administration.

    February 3, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  16. Albo58

    Daschle didn't just wake up and decide that his past was a going to be distraction so he'd do the honorable thing! Obviously, the new president has decided to cut his losses, especially after going through the 2 other non-tax paying nominees! Of course now Mr. Dashle will return in some sort of martyrdom role and make a mint as an insider advisor for medical companies so don't shed too many tears for this crook!

    February 3, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  17. Janet - Floral Park, NY

    Why did Tom Daschle accept such position in the first place knowing that the skeleton will come to the surface? Any candidate who wants to be in accordance with President Obama's agenda should not have tax issues or any issues that would remind the American people of the corruption on Wall Street. Aren't we looking for a fresh start with a leadership that knows and abides by the rules of the game?

    February 3, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  18. fmendes

    Ah yes the crooked politician also survives in the realm of the left.
    Bipartisanship lives.
    Viva the crooked politico , aren't they all the same.
    Unlike the captain who goes down with the ship...
    He bailed out like the rat that he is.

    February 3, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  19. Kyle

    What I would like to know is who gave Daschle this gift and why?

    February 3, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  20. MICK in MESA

    Buh-Bye! Next...

    February 3, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  21. Denver, CO

    Maybe if all these politicians would pay their taxes we wouldn't need a bailout.

    February 3, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  22. Gus

    This guy didn't do anything honorable. He stiffed his President–put President Obama in a tough position. Some politicians call for people to be part of something bigger than himself but in truth it is all about them. Daschle wanted the power of the position badly and was willing to hide his obvious law breaking from the President of the United States–stop with the nonsense that this Creep did something honorable.

    February 3, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  23. center-minded

    Didn't "Joe The Plumber", the hero of the Right, fail to pay back taxes? How quickly we forget!

    February 3, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  24. It's The Ronald

    From the photo it looks like this experience has left him seeing red.

    February 3, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  25. jordan jae

    You know Daschle seems like a nice guy and probably typical Wasington with his tax problems. Of course that doesn't make it right and he did right by resigning and facing any penalties that normal citizens would owing 128K in taxes.

    The point is why, Obama, who is the champion of the new did absolutely nothing. Where is the change?

    February 3, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
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