February 3, 2009 / 1:49 AM / 10 years ago

Daschle withdraws as Obama's healthcare nominee

Secretary-designate for Health and Human Services Tom Daschle (C) leaves after a meeting with the Senate Finance Committee about his pending nomination on Capitol Hill in Washington February 2, 2009. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination as President Barack Obama’s health secretary on Tuesday, saying he did not want to be a distraction after tax errors forced him to pay $140,000 in back taxes.

“This morning, Tom Daschle asked me to withdraw his nomination for secretary of health and human services,” Obama said in a statement. “I accept his decision with sadness and regret.”

Daschle also will not be taking the White House job he was slated to hold concurrently to spearhead a major reform of the costly U.S. healthcare system.

Daschle said in a statement he was withdrawing because he did not want to be a distraction.

“This work will require a leader who can operate with the full faith of Congress and the American people, and without distraction,” Daschle said in a statement released by the White House.

“Right now, I am not that leader and will not be a distraction,” he said.

Reporting by David Alexander and Jeff Mason; Editing by David Wiessler.

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