WASHINGTON — Facing a possible defeat in the Senate, the White House is considering delaying a vote on President Obama’s choice for surgeon general or withdrawing the nomination altogether, an acknowledgment of its fraying relationship with Senate Democrats.
The nominee, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, an internist and political ally of the president’s, has come under criticism from the National Rifle Association, and opposition from the gun-rights group has grown so intense that it has placed Democrats from conservative states, several of whom are up for re-election this year, in a difficult spot.
Senate aides said Friday that as many as 10 Democrats are believed to be considering a vote against Dr. Murthy, who has voiced support for various gun control measures like an assault weapons ban, mandatory safety training and ammunition sales limits.
The troubled nomination is the latest setback for a president who has struggled to get his nominees past members of his own party, even after Democrats changed filibuster rules to prevent repeated Republican blockades of Mr. Obama’s choices for cabinet jobs. Dr. Murthy is one of four nominees who has run into trouble this month after some Democrats have balked.