CHARLOTTE, N.C. ( TheStreet) -- Bank of America's ( BAC) search for a new chief executive, and its dance of death with departing CEO Ken Lewis, has only gotten tougher as its self-imposed Thanksgiving deadline nears.

Lewis may have to postpone his planned departure on Dec. 31 if the board is unable to find a suitable replacement. Some shareholders would like him to entirely reverse his decision to leave, and some board members remain unhappy with his departure.

Speculation has heated up that Lewis will remain in his post since Rochdale Securities analyst Richard Bove published reports last week advocating for Lewis to be the "next" CEO. Reports on Monday in The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News indicated that the search will at least be extended, and that Lewis may lengthen his departure timeline until a qualified and willing replacement is found.

Outside candidates under serious consideration are few and far between, due to pay restrictions and Bank of America's status as a bank that received "exceptional assistance," thereby giving regulators special authority over its operations. Internal candidates are sure to be scrutinized intensely for any connections to the Merrill Lynch deal.

One of them, Brian Moynihan, was grilled by lawmakers last week, with Edolphus Towns, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, questioning his qualifications.

Moynihan and director Charles "Chad" Gifford both deflected questions about whether the executive -- a lawyer by training who now heads consumer and small-business banking -- is in consideration for the top spot, but his name has been tossed around as a top candidate for months. The other potential internal successor is Chief Risk Officer Greg Curl, whom Lewis reportedly prefers.

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