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Obama ‘screwed up’ on cabinet picks

world Updated: Feb 05, 2009 14:18 IST
V Krishna

The new US administration hit its first bump on Tuesday as a flap over unpaid taxes prompted two key nominees, including Barack Obama’s Washington mentor, to withdraw from consideration. The president admitted he had “screwed up”.

“I’ve got to own up to my mistake,” Obama said in an interview with NBC News. “Ultimately, it’s important for this administration to send a message that there aren’t two sets of rules — you know, one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks who have to pay their taxes.”

The two who withdrew were former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, who had been nominated for health and human services secretary, and Nancy Killefer, who was to be the federal spending watchdog as chief performance officer.

Obama tried to contain the damage in five network television interviews.

But he made it clear that the economy was issue No. 1. “The only measure of my success as president when people look back five years from now or nine years from now is going to be, did I get this economy fixed?” he told CNN.