Ebola Point Man Ron Klain: A Consummate Washington Insider

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By Reid J. Epstein,

from The Wall Street Journal,

Ron Klain, who the White House plans to name as point man to handle the Ebola crisis, is a consummate Washington insider.

Mr. Klain was chief of staff to the last two Democratic vice presidents and Attorney General Janet Reno, was portrayed on screen by actor Kevin Spacey and has been in the mix when President Barack Obama was last in the market for a White House chief of staff.

Mr. Obama plans to name the 53-year-old Indiana native to coordinate the government’s Ebola response, including its efforts to detect, isolate and treat Ebola patients in the U.S., a White House official said. Mr. Klain will report to Homeland Security adviser Lisa Monaco and National Security Adviser Susan Rice who, Mr. Obama said Thursday, are stretched too thin to focus adequate attention on Ebola.

Mr. Klain has deep roots in Washington’s Democratic politics. He has worked in the capital since the 1980s, when he was chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee – chaired then by Joe Biden – during the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Mr. Klain’s turn in D.C. popular culture came in the 2008 HBO movie “Recount,” when Mr. Spacey adopted his Georgetown University sweatshirts to play a counselor to Vice President Al Gore‘s campaign.

A graduate of Georgetown and Harvard Law school, Mr. Klain was a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Byron White. In between his stints in government, Mr. Klain has been a lobbyist, working for Fannie Mae and Time Warner. Since leaving Mr. Biden’s office in 2011, he has been the president and general counsel for an investment firm founded by AOL magnate Steve Case.

Mr. Case wrote on Twitter Friday morning that Mr. Klain would take a leave of absence from his firm. “Ron is a talented manager & wise counselor who understands government, business & non-profit sector,” Mr. Case wrote. “We look forward to welcoming him back soon.”

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