The Washington Post

Loop Quiz! Name Obama 2009 cabinet withdrawals

President Obama, standing with members of his Cabinet and of his auto task force in 2009. (Saul Loeb/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Even though President Obama’s most recent nominees — Tom Perez for Labor, Penny Pritzker for Commerce — may face a tough go of it in the Senate, it’s something of an improvement from his first term experience.

Quick Loop Quiz! Name the three Obama Cabinet nominees who had to withdraw their nominations in 2009?

First, may seem a while back, but wasn’t that long ago that former U.N. ambassador, secretary of energy and New Mexico governor Bill Richardson was nominated to be secretary of commerce on Dec. 3, 2008.

But he withdrew a month later, citing an ongoing grand jury investigation into allegations a firm got business from the state of New Mexico after making contributions to Richardson’s political action committee. The investigation was dropped nine months later.

The second withdrawal was truly odd. Obama nominated former New Hampshire senator Judd Gregg (R) on Feb. 3 to be commerce secretary, but Gregg withdrew 10 days later, saying he’d made a mistake. (John Bryson finally got the difficult-to-fill job.)

And the third withdrawal? That was former Senate majority leader Thomas A. Daschle ( D-S.D.), who was nominated shortly after the election in 2008 to be secretary of health and human services. He withdrew in February 2009 after it turned out he’d failed to pay $146,000 in back taxes.

Talk about a rocky beginning. Well, Obama’s doing better — so far — this time around on the withdrawal front. Of course, it helps to have a few holdovers.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.


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