Obama sets mark for early nominee dropouts

Just as the dust was settling last week from the exits of Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer, Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., whipped up the tumult again. By pulling out of consideration for Commerce secretary, a post previously abandoned by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D), Gregg became the Obama administration's fourth high-level dropout so far.

But while this administration has set a turnover record for an incoming Cabinet, it's hardly the first to run into problems with its nominees. Bill Clinton leads among recent presidents with a total of six major nominee dropouts over the course of his presidency, followed by George W. Bush and his Cabinet's two withdrawals. Three previous presidents -- George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter -- each slipped once. All but Reagan had at least one kink in their first-term Cabinet selection process, with Clinton accepting three withdrawals.

Below are details about each of those instances:

George W. Bush

Dec. 10, 2004

Bernard Kerik, former New York City police commissioner, dropped his bid to be secretary of Homeland Security because of unpaid taxes related to employing a housekeeper who wasn't a "clearly legal immigrant." Kerik was the first and only stymied nomination to Bush's second-term Cabinet.

Jan. 20, 2001
Former Alcoa CEO Paul O'Neill, Bush's nominee for Treasury secretary, was forced to pay $92 in back taxes on bonuses to his housekeeper that he had failed to declare. He went on to receive Senate approval.

Jan. 9, 2001
Linda Chavez, a political commentator and former civil rights official, withdrew her candidacy for Labor secretary because of controversy surrounding her decision to shelter an illegal alien in the early '90s. Daschle, then Senate majority leader, was a vocal opponent of her nomination.

Bill Clinton

Oct. 25, 1997
Hershel Gober decided not to pursue his promotion from deputy secretary to secretary of Veterans Affairs because the Senate was expected to reject his nomination based on conflict-of-interest charges stemming from a sexual misconduct allegation.

March 18, 1997
National Security Adviser Anthony Lake withdrew his nomination to lead the Central Intelligence Agency after prolonged confirmation hearings made him, he said, ''a dancing bear in a political circus."

March 11, 1995
Retired Air Force Gen. Michael P. C. Carns dropped his bid to be director of the CIA after the FBI found out that he harbored and possibly employed an illegal immigrant.

Jan. 19, 1994
Retired Adm. Bobby Ray Inman withdrew his candidacy for Defense secretary despite the likelihood that he would have been confirmed. Inman charged that conservative columnist William Safire and Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole were plotting against him.

Feb. 6, 1993
Judge Kimba Wood, Clinton's second attorney general nominee, was asked to withdraw her name because, like the previous nominee, she had employed an illegal immigrant baby sitter - even though she had done so before it was illegal.

Jan. 22, 1993
Clinton dropped his nomination of Connecticut lawyer Zoe Baird for attorney general after Senate outcry over Baird's employment of two illegal aliens as domestic help and failure to pay taxes for their services.

George H. W. Bush

March 10, 1989
The elder Bush's pick to lead the Department of Defense, former Texas senator John Tower, became the first Cabinet nominee in 30 years to be rejected by the Senate. He was, the New York Times reported, "plagued by an unusually long list of allegations" involving drinking, extramarital affairs and various conflicts of interest.

Ronald Reagan

March 3, 1987
President Reagan retracted his nomination of Robert Gates to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency, in part to avoid a public inquiry into the Iran-Contra Affair, in which Gates was involved. The nomination was offered to Tower, but he declined the next day. Bobby Ray Inman was another potential pick for the job.

Jimmy Carter

Jan. 17, 1977
Senate concerns that Theodore Sorenson, Carter's choice to head the CIA, had misused classified material in writing a book about President Kennedy scuttled his confirmation chances. According to Associated Press reporting at the time, the former Kennedy speechwriter called Carter from a pay phone minutes before his confirmation hearing to say he was withdrawing his name from consideration.

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