(CNN) – A Daschle ally familiar with his thinking was not aware Tuesday of any White House pressure on the former Senate Majority Leader to withdraw his nomination.
Was Daschle pushed? “Things don’t work that cleanly,” said the source, who could not say for sure whether any senators may have made appealed to Daschle to end the confirmation process.
The issue was not whether Daschle could “survive” - it was what that process “would do to Obama” and his health care reform and economic agenda. It’s a question of the “price of that confirmation.”
The source confirms that Daschle read the Tuesday New York Times editorial urging him to withdraw from consideration, but would not say whether that might have played a part in his decision. “Tom has been a politician for a very long time,” says the Democratic source. “He understands this town. He made a mistake, he apologized, but timing matters. There was a critical mass building” - questions about meaning of Obama’s ethics standards.
Watch: Ken Rubin from NPR's instant analysis
(CNN) - A senior administration official says the tax issues surrounding former chief performance officer nominee Nancy Killefer are "a little more complicated" than some reports have suggested.
There are actually a few tax issues - all in equally small amounts, all related to household help. Killefer’s withdrawal came after the Obama team spoke with people on the Hill, and came to believe the Senate would rake her over the coals as the third Obama nominee with a tax issue.
This official says the vetting team was aware of all Killefer’s tax issues, and that she was immediately forthcoming about them. Going back to the fall, the transition had decided they wanted her for this role when they unveiled the economic team, but held off on announcing her while they determined if they were comfortable with her tax issues. They decided they were, and announced Killefer about two weeks after the rest of the team.
The decision to have her withdraw has built over last two weeks in light of similar controversy swirling around Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner during his confirmation, and their knowledge of the growing problems surrounding Tom Daschle’s nomination. Killefer, a McKinsey executive, never formally resigned - so she still has a job there to return to.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Sen. Tom Daschle has asked President Obama to withdraw his nomination for Secretary of Health and Human Services, according to a written statement from the White House.
“This morning, Tom Daschle asked me to withdraw his nomination for Secretary of Health and Human Services," President Obama said in the statement. "I accept his decision with sadness and regret."
In his own statement, Daschle said he did not want to be a "distraction."
"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," Daschle said.
Watch: Robert Gibbs answer questions about Daschle
Full Obama and Daschle statements after the jump
(CNN) - Robin Carnahan, scion of a Missouri political dynasty, announced Tuesday she's running for the seat set to be vacated by longtime Missouri Sen. Kit Bond.
Carnahan, the current Democratic secretary of state in Missouri and the daughter of a former governor and senator from the state, said in a video posted on her Web site she wants to bring "common sense" to the United States Senate.
"Our country is facing tough economic times and threats to our security like never before. It’s time we had elected leaders ready to stop the political bickering and start solving problems," she said in the statement.
Carnahan is the first candidate from either party to officially enter the 2010 race, and her star power in the state could clear the Democratic field of contenders vying for the seat held by Bond for more than two decades.
(CNN) – Sarah Palin is weighing in on a high-profile Republican primary race, endorsing Texas governor Rick Perry in his 2010 re-election bid over his potential challenger, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
In a fundraising letter sent to “Texas Republican Women” - a constituency that could be crucial to Hutchison should she decide to run - Palin stressed Perry’s commitment to conservative causes.
“He does what is right regardless of whether it is popular,” Palin’s letter said. “He walks the walk of a true conservative. And he sticks to his guns - and you know how I feel about guns!”
WASHINGTON (CNN) - New Hampshire Rep. Paul Hodes, a Democrat, will announce in the coming week that he plans to seek Judd Gregg’s vacated Senate seat in 2010, according to a source close to the congressman.
Gregg was appointed by President Obama to head the Commerce Department on Tuesday. New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch is likely to appoint Republican Bonnie Newman to fill out the remainder of Gregg’s term, setting the table for an open-seat contest in 2010.
Hodes, an attorney from New Hampshire’s 2nd congressional district, has been on Capitol Hill for just two years. He was first elected in 2006, after unseating Republican Charlie Bass.
He released a statement Tuesday cheering Obama’s selection of Gregg to head Commerce.
“President Obama promised to turn the page and enter a new post partisan era,” said Hodes. “His appointment today of Senator Gregg shows his commitment to that goal. Senator Gregg has a long history of service to New Hampshire and the appointment today is good news for the State of New Hampshire as we now can expect to have a strong advocate for our state in the cabinet.”
UPDATE: A Democratic source told CNN that New Hampshire Rep. Carol Shea-Porter is also considering a run for Gregg's seat, but has not made a decision. She is, however, "keeping the door open."
In a statement, Shea-Porter said she is focused on her current job in the House of Representatives.
"It is still very early and I am focused on my work for New Hampshire and the country," she said.
(CNN) – As Tom Daschle makes his case to remain President Obama's choice to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, the nation's leading liberal editorial page is calling for the former Senate Majority Leader to withdraw his nomination.
In Tuesday's lead New York Times editorial, the paper's editors write Daschle's failure to pay close to $130,000 in taxes for a car and driver service over three years is too big a mistake for Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee to overlook as they consider his nomination.
The paper's editorial board particularly takes issue with the fact that Daschle has said he identified the unpaid taxes last June, but did not pay them until he was nominated for the top post at the Department of Health and Human Services.
"Only after the Obama transition team flagged unrelated tax issues that would require filing amended returns did Mr. Daschle and his accountant address the need to report the personal use value of the car service — more than $255,000 over three years — as income," the board writes.
The editorial also criticizes Daschle for generating a sizeable income from health-related industries while working in the private sector. The former South Dakota senator has advised UnitedHealth Group, serves as a trustee of the Mayo Clinic, and has been paid "hundreds of thousands of dollars for speeches to interest groups, including those representing health insurance plans, medical equipment distributors and pharmacy boards," according to the Times.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Ten Republican senators met in Sen. Mel Martinez's office Tuesday morning to discuss a broader stimulus measure than their leadership is proposing - but a narrower one than Democrats are considering.
CNN was the only news organization outside the meeting.
Afterwards, Martinez told CNN the details are still being debated and finalized, but they are looking at a ballpark figure of $500 billion, including the cost of tax cuts, infrastructure and military spending, and provisions to address the housing crisis.
Martinez and Sen. Lindsey Graham said they plan to present their ideas to fellow Republicans at their weekly policy lunch today.
The eclectic group of Republicans, spanning the ideological spectrum from the most conservative to the most moderate GOP senators, assembled over concerns their leadership's approach - to focus exclusively on the housing crisis and tax cuts - is enough to jumpstart the economy.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins told CNN the group believes a "realistic alternative" to the Democratic proposal is needed. "The worst thing we can do is just say no," she said. Sen. John McCain said they are trying to come up with a better package to create jobs.
The group of senators included John McCain, Mel Martinez, Saxby Chambliss, Susan Collins, Richard Burr, George Voinovich, Tom Coburn, John Thune, Johnny Isakson, and Lindsey Graham.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell, the Republican party’s candidate for governor, announced Tuesday he will resign his post February 10 to campaign full time.
“To remain in this office while running a gubernatorial campaign wouldn’t have been fair to you, the taxpayer,” McDonnell said in a YouTube message featuring the Virginia State Capitol as an opportune backdrop. He was elected to the post in 2005.
“Historically, Democratic and Republican Attorneys General have stepped down from this post in order to run for governor,” he said. “I think it’s the right and proper thing to do.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Two weeks into his presidency, a new national poll suggests that nearly two thirds of Americans approve of the job Barack Obama's doing so far in the White House.
Sxity-four percent of those questioned in a new Gallup/USA Today survey say they approve of how President Obama is handling his job, with 25 percent disapproving and 11 percent unsure.
"A 64 percent rating is fairly high for a presidential approval rating, but it is nothing compared to the 84 percent rating Obama was getting in early January when he was still the president-elect," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
"Previous presidents have also seen a drop in their approval ratings once they move into the White House. President-elect George W. Bush had a 65 percent approval rating before he was inaugurated, but by February of 2001 that had gone down to 57 percent. President-elect Bill Clinton got a 67 percent rating for how he handled his transition, but that number went down to 51 percent by February of 1993. Honeymoons start to fade the moment a new president puts his hand on the Bible, and Obama is no exception," adds Holland.
Sixty-three percent of those questioned in the poll say they think President Obama is moving about right in addressing the major problems facing the country today, with 22 percent indicating they think Obama's moving too fast and 10 percent saying he's not moving fast enough.
Three out of four polled say they want Congress to pass some version of President Obama's economic stimulus package. But Americans seem to be split on whether the plan should be passed with or without significant changes.
The Gallup/USA Today poll was conducted January 30-February 1, with 1,027 people questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.