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Tom Daschle
Tom Daschle, official Senate photo.jpg
Official portrait, 2003
Senate Majority Leader
In office
June 6, 2001 – January 3, 2003
Deputy Harry Reid
Preceded by Trent Lott
Succeeded by Bill Frist
In office
January 3, 2001 – January 20, 2001
Deputy Harry Reid
Preceded by Trent Lott
Succeeded by Trent Lott
Senate Minority Leader
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2005
Deputy Harry Reid
Preceded by Trent Lott
Succeeded by Harry Reid
In office
January 20, 2001 – June 6, 2001
Deputy Harry Reid
Preceded by Trent Lott
Succeeded by Trent Lott
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2001
Deputy Wendell Ford
Harry Reid
Preceded by Bob Dole
Succeeded by Trent Lott
Chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2005
Preceded by George J. Mitchell
Succeeded by Harry Reid
United States Senator
from South Dakota
In office
January 3, 1987 – January 3, 2005
Preceded by James Abdnor
Succeeded by John Thune
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Dakota
In office
January 3, 1979 – January 3, 1987
Preceded by Larry Pressler
Succeeded by Tim Johnson
Constituency 1st district (1979-1983)
At-large district (1983-1987)
Personal details
Thomas Andrew Daschle

(1947-12-09) December 9, 1947 (age 75)
Aberdeen, South Dakota, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Laurie Fulton
(m. 1969; div. 1983)

Linda Hall
(m. 1984)
Children 3
Education South Dakota State University (BA)
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Branch/service Flag of the United States Air Force United States Air Force
Years of service 1969–1972
Unit Strategic Air Command
Battles/wars Vietnam War

Thomas Andrew Daschle (/ˈdæʃəl/ DASH-əl; born December 9, 1947) is an American politician and lobbyist who served as a United States senator from South Dakota from 1987 to 2005. A member of the Democratic Party, he became U.S. Senate Minority Leader in 1995 and later the Majority Leader in 2001.

After leaving the United States Air Force, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1978 and served four terms. In 1986, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, becoming Minority Leader in 1995 and Majority Leader in 2001, becoming the highest-ranking elected official in South Dakota history.

In 2004, he was defeated for reelection in a remarkable upset. Later, he took a position as a policy advisor with a lobbying firm, became a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and co-authored a book advocating universal health care.

Daschle was an early supporter of Barack Obama's presidential candidacy, and was nominated by President-elect Obama for the position of Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services after the 2008 election. However, Daschle withdrew his name on February 3, 2009, amid a growing controversy over his failure to properly report and pay income taxes. He is currently working for The Daschle Group, a Public Policy Advisory of Baker Donelson, a large law firm and lobbying group.

Early life and education

Daschle was born in Aberdeen, South Dakota, the son of Elizabeth B. (née Meier) and Sebastian C. Daschle, both of German descent. His paternal grandparents were Volga Germans. He grew up in a working-class Roman Catholic family, the eldest of four brothers.

He became the first person in his family to graduate from college when he earned a B.A. from the Department of Political Science at South Dakota State University in 1969. While attending South Dakota State University, Daschle became a brother of Alpha Phi Omega. From 1969 to 1972, Daschle served in the United States Air Force as an intelligence officer with the Strategic Air Command.

In the mid-1970s Daschle was an aide to Senator James Abourezk.

House of Representatives (1979–1987)

In 1978 Daschle was elected to the United States House of Representatives at the age of 31, winning the race by a margin of 139 votes, following a recount, out of more than 129,000 votes cast. Daschle served four terms in the House of Representatives and quickly became a part of the Democratic leadership.

Although Daschle was not seeking the Vice-Presidency, he received 10 (0.30%) delegate votes for Vice President of the United States at the 1980 Democratic National Convention. Several others also received protest votes, but incumbent Vice President Walter Mondale was nevertheless renominated easily.

United States Senate (1987–2005)

Daschle Portrait
Official Senate portrait by Aaron Shikler

In 1986, Daschle was elected to the U.S. Senate in a close victory over incumbent Republican James Abdnor. In his first year, he was appointed to the Finance Committee.

Party leadership

In 1994, he was chosen by his colleagues to succeed the retiring Senator George Mitchell as Democratic minority leader. In the history of the Senate, only Lyndon B. Johnson had served fewer years before being elected to lead his party. In addition to the minority leader's post, Daschle served as a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. South Dakotans reelected Daschle to the Senate by overwhelming margins in 1998.

At various points in his career, he served on the Veterans Affairs, Indian Affairs, Finance, and Ethics Committees.

When the 107th Congress commenced on January 3, 2001, the Senate was evenly divided—that is, there were 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans. Outgoing Vice President Al Gore acted in his constitutional capacity as ex officio President of the Senate, and used his tie-breaking vote to give the Democrats the majority in that chamber. For the next two weeks, Daschle served as Senate Majority Leader.

Upon the commencement of the Bush administration on January 20, 2001, Dick Cheney became president of the senate, thereby returning Democrats to the minority in that body; Daschle reverted to the position of Senate Minority Leader. However, on June 6, 2001, Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont announced that he was leaving the Senate Republican caucus to become an independent and to caucus with Democrats; this once again returned control of the body to the Democrats and Daschle again became majority leader.

Democratic losses in the November 2002 elections returned the party to the minority in the senate in January 2003, and Daschle once more reverted to being minority leader.

Daschle recounted his senate experiences from 2001 to 2003 in his first book, Like No Other Time: The 107th Congress and the Two Years That Changed America Forever, published in 2003. With Charles Robbins, he has also written the book The U.S. Senate, part of the Fundamentals of American Government series.

Anthrax case in 2001

In October 2001, while he was the Senate Majority Leader, Daschle's office received a letter containing anthrax, becoming a target of the 2001 anthrax attacks. Some of his staffers were confirmed to have been exposed, as well as several of Senator Russ Feingold's staffers and Capitol police officers. His suite at the Hart Senate Office Building was the focus of an intensive cleanup led by the Environmental Protection Agency.

2004 Senate election

In the 2004 Senate election, John Thune defeated Daschle by 4,508 votes, 50.6% to 49.4%. It was the first time that a Senate party leader had lost a bid for reelection since 1952, when Barry Goldwater defeated Ernest McFarland in Arizona. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist visited South Dakota to campaign for Thune, breaking an unwritten tradition that a leader of one party would not actively campaign for the defeat of the other.

Throughout the campaign, Thune, along with Frist, President George W. Bush, and Vice President Cheney, frequently accused Daschle of being the "chief obstructionist" of Bush's agenda and charged him with using filibusters to unjustly block confirmation of several of Bush's nominees. The Republican candidate also drove home his strong support for the war. In a nationally televised debate on NBC's Meet the Press, Thune accused Daschle of "emboldening the enemy" in his skepticism of the Iraq War.

When the race began in early 2004, Daschle led by 7% in January and February. By May, his lead was just 2% and summer polls showed a varying number of trends: Daschle or Thune led by no more than 2%, but some polls showed a tie. Throughout September, Daschle led Thune by margins of 2–5% while during the entire month of October into the November 2 election, most polls showed that Thune and Daschle were dead even, usually tied 49–49 among likely voters. Some polls showed either Thune or Daschle leading by extremely slim margins.

Personal life

Daschle has been married to Linda Hall, who was Miss Kansas in 1976, since 1984, one year after his marriage to his first wife, Laurie, later-U.S. Ambassador to Denmark, ended in divorce.

Hall was acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration in the Clinton administration; she is now a Washington lobbyist. Her lobbying clients have included American Airlines, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing, Senate lobbying records show.

Tom Daschle has three children from his first marriage: Kelly, Nathan, and Lindsay. Nathan is the CEO of and former executive director of the Democratic Governors Association.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Tom Daschle para niños

  • Unsuccessful nominations to the Cabinet of the United States
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