Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy said at February’s hearing on his nomination for surgeon general that he didn’t plan to use the position as a bully pulpit for gun control. (Charles Dharapak / Associated Press / March 16, 2014)
Intense opposition from the National Rifle Assn. has all but doomed prospects for President Obama's nominee for surgeon general, officials said Saturday as pro-gun Senate Democrats peeled away from the White House on a volatile issue in an election year.
Facing a potential high-profile setback for the president, the White House is not pushing for a vote to confirm Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy, a Harvard- and Yale-educated internist and former emergency room doctor who has advocated for stricter gun control laws, the officials said.
Democratic leaders in the Senate have begun surveying senators to determine whether there is enough support to save the troubled nomination. Few Republicans are expected to back Murthy, and as many as eight Democrats also could be opposed.
"We don't expect a vote to happen," a Senate aide said.
The divide between the White House and the president's party has widened in recent weeks as Obama's low poll numbers leave Democrats increasingly concerned about their chances in the November midterm election and whether they could lose their majority in the Senate.