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White House regroups on surgeon general nominee

Vivek Hallegere Murthy tapped for top doctor.

Vivek Hallegere Murthy tapped for top doctor.

WASHINGTON — The White House is backing off its push for quick confirmation of President Obama’s pick to be surgeon general in the face of opposition from the National Rifle Association and concerns among Democrats up for reelection who don’t want to take another tough vote on a controversial nominee.

Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy, a Harvard Medical School physician and Obama political organizer, is the latest nominee to be targeted for defeat by an outside group in the midst of the midterm election campaign. Murthy’s support of gun control drew the ire of the NRA.

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The White House has decided that, at least for now, it won’t put its vulnerable incumbents in the position of taking a vote that could hurt them in November. It’s an embarrassing setback for Obama, a week after the Senate blocked his pick of Debo Adegbile as the government’s chief civil rights attorney.

Murthy, 36, would be the first Indian-American surgeon general and is backed by many medical groups. But the NRA said his support of gun control raised questions.

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