Dr. Gupta Withdraws Name for Surgeon General

According to the office's Web site, the surgeon general's mission is to serve "as America's chief health educator by providing Americans the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and reduce the risk of illness and injury."

Meanwhile, Gupta has continued to report for CNN throughout the winter, though the media outlet vowed to ensure he did not cross the line as a potential political nominee.

"Since first learning that Dr. Gupta was under consideration for the U.S. surgeon general position, CNN has made sure that his on-air reporting has been on health and wellness matters and not on health care policy or any matters involving the new administration," the network said in a statement released in January.

"If he just sticks to clinical matters, I think that's OK," Johnson said.

Still, Gupta's star power was a potential asset for Obama's administration in helping to raise the profile of the office and sell health decisions to the public.

"I think that when he was initially announced, a lot of people touted that he's a prominent public figure and he has a large TV audience, so the capacity of the surgeon general to disseminate a message, he could fill that role well," Floyd said.

Among those who considered him a good fit for the job was former surgeon general Jocelyn Elders, arguably the most controversial person to hold the post. Elders resigned in 1994 after making a controversial statement about masturbation.

In addition to his current jobs, Gupta, 39, was chosen for the selective White House Fellows program in 1997, through which he served as special advisor to Hillary Clinton when she was first lady.

Still, others outside of the medical community had said they'd oppose his appointment.

"There are highly experienced medical professionals who question whether Dr. Gupta has the necessary experience or even the medical background to be in charge of the 6,000 physicians who work in the United States Public Health Service," wrote Rep. John Conyers, Jr., a Democrat from Gupta's home state of Michigan, in a letter to House lawmakers opposing the pick.

Conyers later added, "Clearly, it is not in the best interests of the nation to have someone like this who lacks the requisite experience needed to oversee the federal agency that provides crucial health care assistance to some of the poorest and most underserved communities in America."

"In general, it's hard to get all those appointments in place and vetted," said Karen Davis, president of The Commonwealth Foundation, a private foundation that supports research on health system performance.

Still, she added, "Health is an urgent issue that needs attention, so the sooner they have leadership, the better."

ABC News' Dan Childs and David Muir contributed to this report.

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