Former Biden Aide Chosen to Lead Ebola Response

10/17/14
 
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from The New York Times,
10/17/14:

President Obama on Friday named Ron Klain, a seasoned Democratic crisis-response operative and White House veteran, to manage the government’s response to the deadly virus as public anxiety grows over its possible spread.

Mr. Klain, a former chief of staff for Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joseph R. Biden Jr., is known for his ability to handle high-stakes and fast-moving political challenges. He was the lead Democratic lawyer for Mr. Gore during the 2000 election recount, and was later played by Kevin Spacey in the HBO drama “Recount” about the disputed contest.

“Obviously right now, the news is dominated by Ebola, and we’ve got an all-hands-on-deck approach across government to make sure that we’re keeping the American people safe,” Mr. Obama said on Friday at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where he was announcing new antifraud measures for government-issued debit cards.

Mr. Klain’s appointment, announced by a White House official, came as Mr. Obama and his team increased their efforts to monitor and contain Ebola, which has sown mounting fear among the public despite the fact that only two people have been confirmed to have contracted Ebola in the United States.

The virus has also threatened to raise questions about the Obama administration’s competence, fueled in recent days by reports that two health care workers were infected while caring for an Ebola-afflicted patient at a Dallas hospital, and one subsequently flew on an airplane with a fever.

Mr. Klain is uniquely positioned to help Mr. Obama counter such questions and rein in a story that has sometimes seemed to spiral out of the White House’s control, said one Democratic operative.

“He’ll control the message better than most people would, which is really important from an economic standpoint, from a health standpoint, but it’s also important from a political perspective,” the operative said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

“If anybody can get the way this is being reported and discussed under control in a short period of time, he’s the one,” the operative added.

The White House official said that Mr. Klain “comes to the job with strong management credentials, extensive federal government experience overseeing complex operations and good working relationships with leading members of Congress, as well as senior Obama administration officials, including the president.”

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