White House pauses on Surgeon General pick, recalibrating strategy (VIDEO)

Dr. Vivek Murthy, President Obama's choice for the next Surgeon General, is the subject of a battle between groups on both sides of the gun control issue. (Photo credit: WCVB Boston)

Dr. Vivek Murthy, President Obama’s choice for the next Surgeon General, is the subject of a battle between groups on both sides of the gun control issue. (Photo credit: WCVB Boston)

Even after passing a Senate committee, the President’s pick for Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, is stalling out over his comments in the past concerning gun control.

“Dr. Murthy is a dynamic, entrepreneurial practitioner who had dedicated a lot of time, energy and passion to health and wellness,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday. “But after the confirmation vote of Debo Adegbile, we are recalibrating the strategy around Dr. Murthy’s floor vote.”

Adegbile had been tapped to run the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice but bipartisan opposition on the senate floor blocked that appointment earlier this month.

The White House’s comment on Murthy comes as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has indefinitely put off a vote on the floor of that chamber on Murthy.

New Senate rules state that nominations simply need 51 votes in that body of lawmakers for confirmation and there are currently 55 Senate Democrats. However, as with the Adegbile vote, it could be that several Dems may cross the aisle against a candidate that has received much negative publicity for his past views on gun control.

Murthy is the president and founder of “Doctors for America.” Murthy founded the group, currently comprised of 15,000 medical workers and students, in 2008 under the name of “Doctors for Obama.” Gun control as a public health issue was a large part of that group’s agenda.

A strong push from pro-Second Amendment groups such as the National Rifle Association against Murthy have been mounted in recent weeks.

“Given Dr. Murthy’s lengthy history of hostility towards the right to keep and bear arms, along with his calls for the full weight of the federal  government’s health apparatus to be used to target lawful gun ownership, there is little reason to believe that he would not work to further a gun control agenda if confirmed as Surgeon General,” said NRA Executive Director Chris Cox in a letter (pdf) to Congress on behalf of that organization’s 5 million members last month.

Gun industry trade groups such as the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) have also denounced Murthy.

“The NSSF opposes Dr. Murthy’s nomination because of his active support of, and advocacy for, laws and policies that would interfere with the lawful commerce in firearms and the ability of our customers to exercise their fundamental civil liberty to keep and bear arms as protected by the Second Amendment,” said Larry Keane, National Shooting Sports Foundation senior vice president and general counsel to Guns.com Wednesday.

“The White House has chosen to name a relatively inexperienced 36-year-old doctor who has more political than medical credentials for the job. His Doctors for America organization was up to its collective stethoscope draped neck in the anti-gun Docs v. Glocks campaign in Florida.” said Keane.

Meanwhile, the gun-violence coalition group of Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America are crying foul.

“The NRA is on a crusade against the Surgeon General nominee because he dared to acknowledge that gun violence (not guns) is a public health issue,” Erika Soto Lamb, Communications Director for (MAIG) said in a statement to Gun.com Thursday.

Lamb continued, “But this isn’t about a political nominee — this is about the NRA trying to suppress the truth about gun violence, as they have done consistently over the last 20 years. The NRA wants to issue gag orders to prevent family doctors from discussing common-sense gun safety measures like safe storage (see Florida) — and they certainly don’t want you hearing the truth about gun violence from America’s top doctor.”

A Senate floor vote on Dr. Murthy, while not currently scheduled, could occur in coming weeks.

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