“If you act like you're the minority, you're going to stay in the minority,” said Kevin McCarthy. “We've gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign.”Congressional Republicans quickly focused on nominations. Although they did not control the Senate, they were able to raise ethics questions that set the new administration on its heels. On February 3, 2009, Margaret Talev and David Lightman reported at McClatchy:
"I campaigned on changing Washington and bottom-up politics. And I don't want to send a message to the American people that there are two sets of standards," Obama said on CNN, one of five networks that conducted previously scheduled interviews with the president Tuesday.
"This was a mistake. I screwed up."
Obama told ABC that it had been an embarrassing day.
"We can't afford glitches, because right now what I should be spending time talking to you about is how we're going to put 3 to 4 million people back to work. And so this is a self-induced injury that I'm angry about, and we're going to make sure we get it fixed."
Earlier Tuesday, former Sen. Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination to become secretary of health and human services, saying that his failure to pay what eventually became $146,000 in back taxes would prevent him from operating "with the full faith of Congress and the American people."
Daschle told Obama of his decision in a telephone call. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the decision was Daschle's alone.
The White House announced the news hours after Nancy Killefer, Obama's nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and the new post of federal chief performance officer, also dropped out because of unpaid taxes.
Those departures followed the confirmation of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner despite his own controversy over unpaid taxes, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's earlier dropping of his bid to become commerce secretary because of a federal probe into a pay-to-play scandal that's reached into his office.