WASHINGTON – Barack Obama on Tuesday abruptly abandoned his nomination fight for Tom Daschle and a second major appointee who failed to pay all their taxes, fearing a lingering ethics dispute would undercut his claims to moral high ground and cripple his presidency in just its second week. "I screwed up," Obama declared.
"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," Obama said near the end of a day of jarring developments, little more than 24 hours after he had said he was "absolutely" committed to Daschle's confirmation.
"I'm frustrated with myself, with our team. ... I'm here on television saying I screwed up," Obama said on NBC's "Nightly News with Brian Williams." He repeated virtually the same words in interviews with other TV anchors.
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