President-elect Joe Biden has elected Ron Klain as chief of staff for his new administration, according to an announcement on the Biden-Harris Presidential Transition Twitter feed.
Klain served as Biden’s chief of staff during the term of former President Barack Obama, when Biden was still vice president. Klain also served as coordinator of Obama’s Ebola Response Team from 2014 to 2015.
“Ron has been invaluable to me in the many years we have worked together,” Biden said in a statement Wednesday, “even as we saved the American economy in 2009 from one of the worst downturns in our history and overcame a frightening health emergency in 2014.
“His deep and diverse experience and his ability to work with all people across the political spectrum is exactly what I need in a White House Chief of Staff when we face this crisis and reunite our country,” the statement continued.
Washington Newsday turned to the President-Elect’s office for further comments.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Klain described the appointment as “the honor of his life.
“I look forward to helping [Biden] and the vice president-elect put together a talented and diverse team to work in the White House as we tackle their ambitious agenda for change and try to bridge the divides in our country,” Klain said.
Klain was selected by Obama in 2014 to lead the U.S. response to the Ebola virus that had come into the country via visitors from West Africa. Some observers criticized Klain’s appointment at the time as a political decision, citing Klain’s lack of public health experience.
However, the then White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, told reporters that Klain had been chosen for his extensive management experience.
“What we were looking for was not an Ebola expert, but rather an implementation expert, and that is exactly what Ron Klain is,” Earnest said in 2014.
Prior to his presidential candidacy, Donald Trump criticized the Obama administration’s choice of Klain. “Obama has just appointed an Ebola czar who has no experience in the medical field and zero experience in controlling infectious diseases,” Trump tweeted in October 2014, “A TOTAL JOKER!
Obama just appointed an Ebola czar with zero experience in the medical field and zero experience in controlling infectious diseases. A TOTAL JOKE!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2014
Last October, Klain said that the Trump administration had “simply given up” on trying to actively combat the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. “[They] are basically just waiting for the vaccine,” Klain told MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell, “and this is not a strategy.
“Donald Trump and his government have just left the battlefield,” Klain added.
Although only 11 people in the U.S. are reported to be infected with the Ebola virus, Klain’s experience in managing the outbreak could prove useful as Biden prepares for the COVID 19 pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Biden made Trump’s perceived lack of preparation for the coronavirus outbreak one of his key campaign points.
During his remarks about the corona virus on Monday, Biden implored Americans to wear face masks to help contain the spread of COVID-19. “We could save tens of thousands of lives if everyone just wore a mask for the next few months,” Biden said. “Not the lives of Democrats or Republicans, but the lives of Americans…”