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Joe Biden picks Ron Klain as White House chief of staff

Joe Biden picks Ron Klain as White House chief of staff thumbnail

Publishedduration38 minutes agoimage copyrightGetty Imagesimage captionMr Biden (right) seen with Ron Klain at a meeting in 2014US President-elect Joe Biden has picked veteran aide Ron Klain to be White House chief of staff, his team say.Mr Klain has served as an aide to Mr Biden since the 1980s on the Senate Judiciary Committee and later…

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image captionMr Biden (right) seen with Ron Klain at a meeting in 2014

US President-elect Joe Biden has picked veteran aide Ron Klain to be White House chief of staff, his team say.

Mr Klain has served as an aide to Mr Biden since the 1980s on the Senate Judiciary Committee and later as chief of staff when he was vice-president.

Mr Klain was also a senior White House aide to Barack Obama and chief of staff to Vice-President Al Gore.

He was played by actor Kevin Spacey in the movie Recount, about the presidential election of 2000.

The White House chief of staff – who manages the president’s daily schedule and is often described as his gatekeeper – is a political appointee that does not require confirmation by the Senate.

Mr Biden paid tribute to Mr Klain in a statement issued by his transition team.

“His deep, varied experience and capacity to work with people all across the political spectrum,” said Mr Biden, “is precisely what I need in a White House chief of staff as we confront this moment of crisis and bring our country together again.”

In the same statement, Mr Klain said he was “humbled” by the president-elect’s confidence in him.

“I look forward to helping him and the vice president-elect assemble a talented and diverse team to work in the White House, as we tackle their ambitious agenda for change, and seek to heal the divides in our country,” said Mr Klain.

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Mr Klain served as chief counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1989-92 when Mr Biden was chairman.

He was also an adviser and speechwriter on Mr Biden’s unsuccessful 1988 and 2008 White House campaigns.

Mr Klain served as chief of staff to Mr Biden from 2009-11 during his tenure as vice-president in the Obama White House.

He later served as “Ebola czar” under Mr Obama during a minor outbreak of the deadly disease in 2014.

The longstanding Democratic operative was also involved in both of Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns and was an adviser to John Kerry’s failed White House run in 2004.

He has been a presidential debate coach for Mr Clinton, Mr Gore, Mr Kerry, Mr Obama, Hillary Clinton and Mr Biden.

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His role as chief of staff to Mr Gore, who retracted his initial concession in the disputed White House election of 2000, was turned into the HBO drama Recount.

“The plural of chad is chad?” Mr Klain, played by Spacey, asks at one point in the film, referring to the fragments of punched ballots that became critical to the tally in Florida.

Mr Gore’s Republican opponent, George W Bush, was ultimately declared the winner.

Mr Klain often tweets about the episode, only last year posting: “People frequently tell me that I should ‘get over’ the 2000 election and the recount. I haven’t, and I don’t think I ever will.”

He fell out with the now-president-elect five years ago after throwing in his lot with Mrs Clinton’s campaign back when Mr Biden, then-US vice-president, still hoped to compete for the party nomination.

“It’s been a little hard for me to play such a role in the Biden demise,” Mr Klain wrote of the man he had served as chief of staff in an email to Clinton presidential campaign chairman John Podesta in October 2015.

“I am definitely dead to them – but I’m glad to be on Team HRC,” he added, using Mrs Clinton’s initials.

The message was disclosed by Wikileaks following a hack and Mr Klain refused to comment on the controversy in August when it was reported by news outlet, Politico.

Mr Klain has since worked his way back into Mr Biden’s good graces.

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During this year’s White House race, President Donald Trump repeatedly mentioned Mr Klain as he attacked Mr Biden.

The Republican president kept referring to Mr Klain’s critical remarks about how the H1N1 swine flu pandemic of 2014-15 was handled in the US. About 12,500 Americans died, though that disease was much less lethal than Covid-19.

Mr Klain, appearing last year on a panel discussion, said: “We did every possible thing wrong. And it’s, you know, 60 million Americans got H1N1 in that period of time. And it’s just purely a fortuity that this isn’t one of the great mass casualty events in American history.”

Mr Trump used Mr Klain’s remarks as he sought to rebut Mr Biden’s argument that he would bring experience and competence to handling America’s current coronavirus crisis.

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