Surgeon general nominee Vivek Murthy has attracted both praise and criticism, earning kudos from public health advocates but scorn from some conservatives, who see him as overly political.

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A Senate committee voted to confirm Harvard physician Vivek Murthy as President Obama's nominee for surgeon general.

The full Senate will now schedule a vote on Murthy, 36, who has attracted praise from many public health groups, as well as criticism from some conservatives who say he's too political for such a respected medical post.

For a young man, Murthy has a long résumé. He's a doctor at Brigham and Women's Hospital and an instructor at Harvard Medical School, both in Boston. He helped develop vaccines; launched a group to educate young people about HIV and AIDS; founded a rural partnership in India to train young women as health educators; and started a software technology company.

"Dr. Murthy's extraordinary medical and public health accomplishments show that he is well-qualified to continue that mission, and I am confident that Dr. Murthy will help to greatly improve the health of Americans today and long into the future," said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, in a statement. Harkin is chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, which voted to confirm Murthy on Thursday.

Murthy is best known for founding Doctors for America, which campaigned for Obama's health care law. The group originated as Doctors for Obama, working to help elect the president.

Some health leaders praise Murthy's entrepreneurial spirit.

"Competence, not age, should be the major criteria for this important position," wrote Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, in an editorial supporting Murthy's nomination.

Former surgeon general Richard Carmona has said Murthy is too young for the position by 20 years.

Others criticized Murthy for tweets calling for gun control after the 2012 shootings in Newtown, Conn.

The National Rifle Association wrote to Senate leaders, urging them to reject Murthy.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who said he will try to block Murthy's confirmation, said he is concerned about Murthy's "political agenda" and that Murthy will use the position to promote gun control.

At a hearing earlier this month, Murthy said he won't "use the Surgeon General's office as a bully pulpit for gun control." He added, "The role is not to be a legislator or a judge. The role is to be a public health educator and to bring the country together around our most pressing healthcare challenges, and I believe at this point that obesity is the defining public health challenge of our time. That is where I intend to put my primary focus."

The surgeon general serves a four-year term and is the nation's top spokesperson on public health issues. If confirmed by the Senate, Murthy would replace acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak, who stepped in last summer after the retirement of Surgeon General Regina Benjamin.

Surgeons general have often waded into thorny political issues.

Fifty years ago, Surgeon General Luther Terry challenged the tobacco industry by issuing an authoritative report saying that smoking caused lung cancer, and is now largely revered as a hero. In the 1980s, Surgeon General C. Everett Koop shocked Americans by talking about condoms and AIDS. In 1994, President Clinton fired Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders after she made controversial statements about legalizing drugs and teaching teens about masturbation as an alternative to premarital sex.

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