Obama has said he is considering two other candidates for the post, Fed Vice Chairman Janet L. Yellen and former Fed vice chairman Don Kohn. But he was leaning toward picking Summers, people close to the White House say, and the economist’s decision to take his name out of the ring might lead Obama to pursue a wider range of candidates.
Summers helped Obama navigate the depths of the financial crisis and recession, providing a degree of support that Obama has told aides he deeply valued.
No official, with the possible exception of former Treasury secretary Timothy F. Geithner, did more to influence the president’s response to the traumatic events he faced at the beginning of his term, which Obama plans to highlight this week as he marks the fifth anniversary of the financial crisis.
On Sunday, Summers telephoned the president to tell him he was withdrawing his name from consideration.
“It has been a privilege to work with you since the beginning of your Administration as you led the nation through a severe recession into a sustained economic recovery,” Summers wrote in a letter to the president.
He added: “This is a complex moment in our national life. I have reluctantly concluded that any possible confirmation process for me would be acrimonious and would not serve the interest of the Federal Reserve, the Administration, or ultimately, the interests of the nation’s ongoing economic recovery.”
Obama accepted Summers’s decision, lauding him and saying that he planned to continue to consult his former adviser.
By Bradley Klapper and Darlene Superville, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama said Saturday he believed the chances for a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran are 50-50 or worse, yet defended diplomacy as the best way to prevent Tehran from acquiring atomic weapons.
During a question-and-answer session with a pro-Israel audience, Obama said he wasn't naive about the odds for a successful final agreement between world powers and Iran next year, building on the recent six-month interim deal.