(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.
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A messy Daschle confirmation would have put the president on the defensive, and generated unfortunate headlines - and the Times editorial “re-inforced that this might be a difficult, and certainly a distracting, confirmation process for a White House that doesn’t have that kind of time.”
The source said the development had been very difficult for Daschle. “He wanted to do this. He wanted to move health care,” said the source. “He has spent a good deal of his life [on this], wrote a book on the issue. He wanted to help Obama. They’ve been together since the beginning. This is tough, tough, tough on him.”