WASHINGTON – PRESIDENT Barack Obama said on Tuesday that he ‘screwed up’ with the nomination of Tom Daschle to head the health and human services department, after the former senator withdrew over tax questions.
‘I don’t want to send a message to the American people that there are two sets of standards, one for powerful people, and one for ordinary folks who are working every day and paying their taxes,’ Mr Obama said in an interview with CNN.
‘I think this was a mistake. I think I screwed up. And, you know, I take responsibility for it and we’re going to make sure we fix it so it doesn’t happen again,’ he said.
In a separate interview with Fox News, Mr Obama pointed out that Mr Daschle ‘took responsibility for the mistake on his taxes. I think it was an honest mistake, and I made the assessment, I made the judgment that he was the best person to achieve healthcare reform and bring people together.
‘But what became clear to me is that we can’t send a message to the American people that we got two sets of rules, one for prominent people and one for ordinary people, and so I consider this a mistake on my part, and one that I intend to fix and correct,’ he said.
Mr Daschle said earlier on Tuesday he had decided to withdraw his name because he did not want to be a distraction for Obama’s ambitious plans to reform healthcare.
‘We need the best care in America to be available to all Americans,’ Mr Daschle said in a statement issued from the White House.
On Monday, Daschle had apologised for what he described as mistakes that led him to pay about US$128,000 (S$192,000) in back taxes plus some US$12,000 in interest.