Biden taps Indianapolis native Klain as his chief of staff

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President-elect Joe Biden has chosen his longtime adviser Ron Klain—an Indianapolis native and a 1979 graduate of North Central High School—to reprise his role as his chief of staff, installing an aide with decades of experience in the top role in his White House.

Klain, 59, will lead a White House likely to be consumed by the response to the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to spread unchecked across the nation, and he’ll face the challenge of working with a divided Congress that could include a Republican-led Senate. Klain served as the coordinator to the Ebola response during the 2014 outbreak.

In a statement Wednesday night, Biden suggested he chose Klain for the position because his longtime experience in Washington had prepared him for such challenges.

“His deep, varied experience and capacity to work with people all across the political spectrum 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,” Biden said.

Klain served as chief of staff for Biden during Barack Obama’s first term, was chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore in the mid-1990s and was a key adviser on the Biden campaign, guiding Biden’s debate preparations and coronavirus response. He’s known and worked with Biden since the Democrat’s 1987 presidential campaign.

The choice of Klain underscores the effort the incoming Biden administration will place on the coronavirus response from day one. Klain has experience in public health as the Ebola response coordinator and played a central role in drafting and implementing the Obama administration’s economic recovery plan in 2009.

“I’m honored by the President-elect’s confidence and will give my all to lead a talented and diverse team in a Biden-Harris WH,” Klain tweeted.

Choosing Klain is also likely to assuage some concerns among progressives who had been gearing up for a fight over one of the first and biggest staff picks Biden will make as he builds out his White House team. The chief of staff is typically a gatekeeper for the president, crafts political and legislative strategy and often serves as a liaison to Capitol Hill in legislative negotiations.

Progressives had expressed concerns that Biden would pick one of his other former chiefs of staff: Steve Richetti, who faces skepticism for his work as a lobbyist, or Bruce Reed, who is seen as too much of a moderate to embrace reforms pushed by the party’s base. But progressives see Klain as open to working with them on top priorities like climate change and health care.

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9 thoughts on “Biden taps Indianapolis native Klain as his chief of staff

    1. Well, we saw how the bright idea of a guy who had no government experience worked out. Besides, Klain has no problem disclosing his academic record and doesn’t brag about it. Trump’s academic record apparently is fantastic but is still under the most unfair audit ever so he can’t back it up with the facts.

    2. Agreed. The old Swamp monster himself is back to defend his natural habitat. The only winners with Joe are the Swamp and the CCP.

  1. We are coming to the end of an administration built just the other way, and that’s an experiment that has not worked well either.

    The important thing is to see that there are national problems, including the pandemic and its economic consequences. Some of these national problems require national solutions (e.g., the long-term stability of Social Security; an economic policy that steadies the country while allowing for economic vitality and change; and a sensible and durable response to climate change). So far Biden has been explicit in acknowledging that making progress on these matters requires collaboration and negotiation across party lines. That may not work either, as the determined obstructionism of the McConnell Republicans during the Obama years illustrates. But as Winston Churchill remarked, democracy is the worst form of government save for all others.

    Let’s give our government (for better and worse it _is_ ours) a chance to govern, and to air views that are not only snarky and skeptical.

    1. You’re assuming you’re correct. Covid isn’t a problem. It’s a disease that exists and will continue to exist. I don’t want a “response to climate change”. I don’t want to “fix social security”. There’s your issue: you assume these things are the right approach. I want the government out of every aspect of life except national defense and basic infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc). Heck I’d even be fine with them privatizing roads and bridges. And before you extol OL’ Joe, he wants to “work across the aisle…provided you agree with everything he says.”

    2. Kai Are you kidding? Biden calling for collaboration across party lines?! What a joke! He is the hand puppet of Bernie and The Squad, and they have no interest in compromising on anything with anyone reasonable!

  2. Nicholas F. Read the IBJ article about the strain on hospital systems. That’s why this is more than a “disease”. It’s a rapidly spreading community acquired infection. What you do, affects others. It would be terrible if doctors had to prioritize someone not getting care because there aren’t enough nurses and doctors to do the work or enough supplies to properly care for patients. This rugged individualism that is being espoused is a myth.

    1. Mary B. What strain on hospitals? Not due to Covid, itself, but the idiotic mandates from politicians and government bureaucrats that effectively shutdown our whole medical system to hold space for Covid patients that never came in anywhere near the numbers healthcare “experts” forecasted. Rugged individualism is what keeps our economy moving, delivers package, raises crops, stocks the shelves of our groceries, etc., while the healthcare authorities scream at us to hide under our beds.

  3. Steven J & Nicholas F, THANK YOU! you are few of the rational thinking people I have seen comments from in IBJ! Actually considered canceling my subscription if it weren’t for the BUSINESS news.
    People PLEASE look at what the socialist agenda is wanting to impose on our free republic. It’s not too late to WAKE UP