Washington (CNN) - Secret conversations on the balcony. A special phone line for instant and direct communication. These are some of the tools former Democratic leader Tom Daschle and former Republican leader Trent Lott used to forge bipartisan consensus and compromise when they ran the Senate a little more than a decade ago.
In a joint interview in the shadow of the Capitol, Daschle and Lott reminisced about bridging partisan differences to get things done - instructive for today's leaders talking past each other as the fiscal cliff approaches.FULL STORY
Editor's note: Before joining CNN, Senior Political Editor Mark Preston spent six years as a staff writer for the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, writing stories on powerful lawmakers and key staffers such as Pete Rouse. Rouse, whom President Obama named his interim chief of staff Friday, is low-key but very well respected for his knowledge of the legislative process and straightforward approach when working with Republicans. This story, which appeared in Roll Call in 2004, is from one of the few interviews Rouse has given on the record. Although this article was written six years ago, it still provides readers with an inside look into one of the most powerful people in government.
Pete Rouse is no stranger to tough battles as Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle's (D-S.D.) top aide. He was part of the team that catapulted Daschle into his leadership post in 1994 and four years later helped negotiate the terms of former President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial.
In recent years, he has had to navigate a flip-flopping Senate majority, the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and an envelope full of anthrax opened in Daschle's office that exposed more than a dozen staffers to the potentially deadly spores.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/04/obama.health.policy/art.daschle.gi.jpg caption="Tom Daschle will serve on the commission that will select this year's White House Fellows."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Months after withdrawing his name from cabinet consideration, Tom Daschle has finally landed a position with the Obama administration.
The White House announced Wednesday the former Senate Majority Leader would serve on the commission that will select this year's White House Fellows, along with the president's sister Maya Soetoro-Ng and 26 others. The fellows chosen will be given the the chance to work in the federal government and take part in discussions with leaders in the public and private sectors.
"The men and women of this commission embody what makes the White House Fellows program so special," Obama said. "These leaders are diverse, non-partisan, and committed to mentoring our next generation of public servants. I'm confident that they will select a class of White House Fellows that demonstrate extraordinary leadership, strong character, and a deep commitment to serving their country."
Daschle was under consideration for Secretary of Health and Human Services, but withdrew his name amid controversy over his failure to pay certain taxes.
Over 1,000 young people applied for the fellowship program. The commission will convene this week to pick 11-19 winners out of 30 finalists. Former Secretary of State General Colin Powell and retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark are past participants in the program.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/09/04/cindy.mccain.speech/art.cindy2.gi.jpg caption="Cindy McCain traveled to Rwanda last year for ONE."]
(CNN) – Cindy McCain and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle will accept an award for the global anti-poverty group ONE in Washington Tuesday.
The organization is being given the Center for Global Development’s “Commitment to Development Award” for its outreach work during the 2008 presidential campaign. Daschle, along with former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, chaired the group’s campaign-linked efforts last year.
McCain, wife of Republican presidential nominee John McCain, traveled to Rwanda last July for ONE.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/04/obama.health.policy/art.daschle.gi.jpg caption="Former Sen. Tom Daschle's withdrawal may be a setback for the Obama administration's heath care agenda."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Sen. Tom Daschle's decision to withdraw his nomination to head the Department of Health and Human Services has observers buzzing about what the loss means to President Obama's health care agenda.
Daschle had been fighting to save his nomination after facing controversy regarding his tax records - filing amended tax returns and paying more than $140,000 in back taxes and interest - and questions over his work in a field that some consider lobbying.
Obama stood by Daschle's side despite the criticism until Tuesday when the former Senate majority leader formally withdrew his bid for HHS secretary. The president said he accepted Daschle's decision with "sadness and regret."
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the health care crunch is more important than any one politician.
"I don't think the effort for health care slows down, and I think Daschle and others would agree the effort for health care is greater than any individual," Gibbs said at a press briefing Tuesday.
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said finding a new nominee quickly was imperative.
"You have 50 million people with no insurance, and we need to step forward on health care for the American people," Reid said.
So how does the prospect of a sweeping health care overhaul look now that Daschle won't spearhead it?
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/03/obama.dashle/art.obama.ac.cnn.jpg caption="President Barack Obama is interviewed by CNN's Anderson Cooper on Tuesday."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama on Tuesday admitted he made a mistake in handling the nomination of Tom Daschle as his Health and Human Services secretary, saying Daschle's tax problems sent a message that the politically powerful are treated differently than average people.
Watch: Pres. Obama one-on-one
Daschle, the former Democratic leader in the U.S. Senate, withdrew earlier Tuesday as news that he failed to pay some taxes in the past continued to stir opposition on Capitol Hill.
"I think I screwed up," Obama said in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper. "And, I take responsibility for it and we're going to make sure we fix it so it doesn't happen again."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/03/art.getty.daschle.jpg caption="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'
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/03/art.getty.tom.daschle.jpg caption=" A source said the development had been very difficult for Daschle."](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-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/03/art.daschle1.gi.jpg caption="Daschle has withdrawn his nomination to lead the Health and Human Services Department."]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-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/03/art.daschle.gi.jpg caption="Daschle met with the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday."](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.