The Democratic criticism of Summers focused on both his policies and his personality. Some lawmakers and economists criticized Summers for the role he played in deregulating parts of the financial industry during his tenure in the Clinton administration, while women's groups were critical of comments he had made about female aptitude in math and science.
Bill Burton, a former Obama White House official, defended the president's decision to consider Summers for the post despite the controversy that surrounded him. And he cast the pushback from Democrats, not only against the Summers nomination but also on other issues, as part of the political reality that faces presidents after winning re-election.
"Second term presidents often have more difficulty getting even simple things done," Burton said.
Summers' withdrawal marks the second time since Obama's re-election that he has lost his top choice for a high-profile job even before announcing an official nomination.
Rice, a close friend of the president, was a leading contender for secretary of state. But faced with blistering criticism from Republicans about her initial explanation of the deadly attack last year on Americans in Benghazi, Libya, Rice withdrew from consideration in December, saying she did not want her potential confirmation hearing to be a distraction for the president.
Obama later named Rice his national security adviser, a position that does not require Senate confirmation.
It's unlikely the president will find a similar fallback post for Summers, given that he's already served as Obama's top in-house economist.
Associated Press writer Donna Cassata contributed to this report. Follow Julie Pace on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC
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