Ron Klain's appointment as Joe Biden's chief of staff reflects the president-elect's prioritisation of loyalty and experience and is the antithesis of Donald Trump’s approach over the last four years.
Mr Klain, 59, is a lawyer, political consultant and skilled Washington operator who started his journey in the US capital clerking for Supreme Court Justice Bryon White in 1987. His relationship with Mr Biden goes back to 1989 when Mr Klain was chief counsel at the Senate judiciary committee.
Mr Klain has accompanied Mr Biden through different chapters of his political life in Washington. He became his chief of staff as Vice President from 2009 to 2011, and then served as President Barack Obama’s Ebola response co-ordinator in 2014-2015. That experience will help Mr Biden push forward his top policy priority to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic that has already claimed over 240,000 lives in the United States.
It’s Mr Klain’s relationship with the president-elect, experience with an epidemic, ability to manage a bureaucratic operation and work across the aisle with Republicans in Congress that made his resume appealing.
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“Ron has been invaluable to me over the many years that we have worked together … 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,” Mr Biden said in a statement.
The pick also offers a complete contrast with the Trump approach to choosing his chief of staff. In four years, President Donald Trump went through four appointments to the position: Reince Priebus, John Kelly, Mick Mulvaney and outgoing chief of staff Mark Meadows. Each of their tenures was marked with a level of chaos, flashy headlines and loud clashes with Mr Trump's inner circle, especially his family members.
With Mr Klain’s pick, Mr Biden is trying to highlight stability and steadiness in running the day to day operations from the White House. His pick is more similar to George W Bush appointing Andrew Card or Bill Clinton appointing Leon Panetta. Both had effective runs in one of the most powerful positions in Washington, and worked well with the legislative branch.
Mr Klain’s pick is also indicative of future nominations and appointments that Mr Biden will make. Other experienced names in US politics such as former Chair of the Federal Reserve Janet Yellen and Senator Chris Coons have been floated for the Treasury and Secretary of State positions. Unlike Mr Klain, these positions require confirmation from Congress.
Mr Biden will also have to balance different wings in his party. Leftist Senator Bernie Sanders confirmed to CNN his interest in becoming the Secretary of Labour under Mr Biden. The president-elect’s former primary rivals Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren have also shown interest in serving in the next administration.