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Ron Klain

Ron Klain38 posts

Ronald A. Klain is a lawyer and Democratic political strategist born in 1961 in Indianapolis. He was chief of staff to two Vice Presidents, Al Gore and Joe Biden, and served on the Democratic campaigns of Al Gore and John Kerry. He attended Harvard and Georgetown Universities. He was played by Kevin Spacey in Recount, a TV movie about the Florida recount in the 2000 Presidential election. He has worked for the investment and venture capital firms Case Holdings and Revolution Ventures. He is married to Monica Medina, a lawyer and environmental activist, and they have three children. On Oct. 17, 2014, he was named to the position of Ebola response coordinator by Pres. Barack Obama.

27 Oct, 2014

Confusion over anti-Ebola effort

Media question the White House over the anti-Ebola effort and what Klain is doing, as confusion deepens with New York changing its mandatory quarantine rules and New Jersey keeping its rules in place, while the CDC says returning healthcare workers don’t need to be quarantined but U.S. armed forces personnel are quarantined in Italy. Reporter to White House press secretary:

What has changed since he started his job? It appears as though this week there’s more confusion than there was last week, given what we’re seeing in New York and New Jersey, and more differences between how the states are dealing with it.

22 Oct, 2014

First day as “Ebola Czar”

Klain meets with Obama and senior White House staff members to discuss strategies for preparedness and containment on his first day as “Ebola czar”. White House official:

He will attend meetings with other senior White House staff, as well as with the White House teams that are coordinating and operationalising the comprehensive strategy to enhance our domestic preparedness and contain the epidemic in West Africa.

21 Oct, 2014

Misses Ebola meetings

Klain is reported to be excused from a Republican-led congressional panel on Ebola due Friday. He will officially start work on Wednesday. A White House official confirms that he did not attend two previous meetings in the 48 hours after he was appointed as response coordinator:

It is not that long of a lapse

17 Oct, 2014

White House explains Klain’s role

Press secretary Josh Earnest says the White House was looking for an ‘implementation expert’, not necessarily someone qualified in Ebola treatment. He tells CBS that Klain is responsible for coordinating the approach to the virus between the various agencies such as USAID and AfriCom overseas and the DHS and CDC domestically:

This administration, under the direction of the President, is pursuing a whole-of-government approach…it is the responsibility of Mr Klain to coordinate those efforts across agencies to make sure we are maximizing this whole-of-government approach.

Klain was selected for his experience in private- and public-sector management:

The president wanted someone who could working in a coordinating function…what we were looking for is not an Ebola expert but an implementation expert.

Some Republicans and political commentators have referred to Klain as a ‘czar’:

They’re certainly welcome to do that. We describe him as the Ebola response coordinator.

He is reporting to Rice and Monaco, but Pres. Obama remains in ultimate charge of the Ebola response.

White House: Not solely a medical response

Earnest explains that Klain will lead a response effort that incorporates many government agencies and says Pres. Obama wanted a person in charge of the response who focused solely on the virus:

By bringing on Mr. Klain he will dedicate 100% of his time to coordinating this whole-of-government approach…The president recognized that the response would benefit from having someone that could devote 100% of their time to coordinating the response, and somebody like Mr. Klain, who has a strong management track record both inside government and outside has the right track record…This is much bigger than a medical response…there is a significant medical component, but it’s not solely a medical response

Obama shows frustration

President Obama is reported to show frustration in private meetings about the Ebola response, as medical officials have given information that later turned out to be wrong, guidance to local health teams has been inadequate, and it’s unclear which patients belong in which threat categories. Obama:

It’s not tight.


Part of the challenge is to be assertive, to be in command, and yet not feed a kind of panic that could easily evolve here. It’s not enough to doggedly and persistently push for answers in meetings. You have to be seen doggedly and persistently pushing for answers.

People familiar with the situation say the President has placed a lot of blame on the CDC for the inadequate response. They say that a ‘business-as-usual’ attitude that persisted after Duncan’s case changed abruptly when Vinson was infected. Aide:

This Frontier thing took it out of the abstract thing and to this level where people could identify with and made them scared

They say the White House has begun to return to normal with the appointment of Klain to head the response to the virus.

Involved in Solyndra visit

A report says that Klain was involved in President Obama’s decision to visit the solar power company in 2011 despite questions over its finances. As Ebola ‘czar,’ Klain will report to National Security Advisor Susan Rice and homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco, it says.

Report: Ebola chief has no background

CBS reports that Obama-appointed Ebola ‘czar’ Klain has no medical or health care background. A Democratic senator praises the choice of Biden’s former chief of staff while a Republican senator criticizes it. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.:

I’ve known Ron Klain for over twenty years. He is smart, aggressive, and levelheaded; exactly the qualities we need in a czar to steer our response to Ebola. He is an excellent choice.

Report: Appointed to clarify chain of command

CBS reports that Klain is appointed partly in response to confusion over who is in charge of the anti-Ebola effort. In a segment of a White House press question-and-answer a reporter asks Earnest:

[You are] reluctant to say who’s in charge of the federal response to Ebola

It interviews medical expert Dr. David Agus who says while states are in charge of their own medical response, the federal government needs to coordinate the approach:

We’re getting such mixed messages

11 Nov, 2013

Interviews Spacey at Georgetown

Klain interviews Spacey about whether House of Cards is an accurate picture of ethics in government. He cites a tweet from the show’s producers:

House Of Cards is obviously a fictional show because it’s also a Congress that gets shit done

Questioning Spacey on how close the show is to reality:

When I talk to people outside Washington about House of Cards, my friends from outside Washington all tell me the same thing, Please tell me, Ron, that it’s not that bad.


Whether they might say this publicly or not publicly I’ve talked to many people in politics who’ve told me…It’s the most accurate description of how politics works that we’ve ever seen

1 Jul, 2013

Georgetown speech on Obama

Klain gives a speech as part of a panel at the university on what he says will be the legacy of Obama’s presidency. He says there are four main parts, the economy; healthcare; the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the war against Al Qaeda, including the death of Bin Laden; and inclusiveness, where aside from becoming the first non-white President he says Obama has advanced Hispanic issues like recognizing around 11 million immigrants, and things like gay marriage and gays serving in the military. On the economy:

You can agree or disagree with [Obama’s] economic policies but just on the math, on the numbers, he will finish his presidency with the greatest percentrage growth in the stock market, national wealth house prices, and the greatest reduction in the deficit

He says that before Obamacare, people could lose their homes or bank accounts if they didn’t have medical insurance. On the wars:

That those wars have come to an end under this president is historic


Those are four historic changes under [Obama’s] presidency

4 Jan, 2011

Joins Case Holdings

Klain leaves the White House to join Case Holdings, former AOL Chairman Steve Case’s investment holding company, which oversees Revolution LLC. Revolution holds interests in 20 companies including the hourly car rental company Zipcar, the coupon site LivingSocial, and online health information provider Everyday Health. He will also assist Case and Case’s wife, Jean, administering the Case Foundation. Klain:

The chance to do something great, exciting and new made this a compelling offer I couldn’t say no to. It allows me to work in a new way with a team I enjoyed working with before and to take my business and law career to the next step.

25 May, 2008


Spacey plays Klain in the HBO television film directed by Jay Roach. The film covers the 2000 election from the polls on Nov. 7 to the Supreme Court decision on the Florida recount, and the Gore campaign’s response throughout. Klain:

On the Saturday before this all ended, all 67 counters in Florida were all counting ballots…and the only reason this all stopped was because the court decided 4-5 to stop. In all the time since then, I’ve never thought of a way to get a different result.

He adds:

There is a lot of information in the film that wasn’t known contemporaneously

27 Sep, 2003

Clark campaign

Klain works on Gen. Wesley K. Clark’s campaign as the top policy coordinator. At a New Hampshire event:

This is a candidate who speaks to big ideas. A lot of people on the Hill are concerned that the field is stuck a little bit in the weeds. Clark takes it up a notch. And people look at him as someone who can actually beat George Bush.

14 Mar, 2002

Democratic challenges to voting maps

Klain comments on the Democratic efforts against redistricting after a state judge rules Virginia’s legislative map is unconstitutional as it packs black voters into a small amount of districts. It follows a New Jersey decision where Democrats argued that black voters were spread over too many districts:

In New Jersey the fact that the districts were not packed was successfully defended. Here, the fact that the districts were packed was successfully attacked.

25 May, 2001

CNN interview


Klain is interviewed by Greta Van Susteren on Sen. Jeffords’s move away from the Republican Party and the power shift in the Senate. Klain talks about Supreme Court nominations by Pres. Bush compared with Clinton’s:

I think the important thing is how the Judiciary Committee moves forward to deal with this period of divided government, of a Senate now controlled by the Democrats, a Republican president in the White House, and how they go about processing judicial nominations at this very important, very sensitive time.

10 Dec, 2000

Supreme Court halts Florida recount

As the Supreme Court hands down its decision to halt the recount, Klain says Gore has picked up a net gain of 58 votes in the approximately 13 of 67 Florida counties that have begun or completed manual recounts. He says this is enough to demonstrate Gore would have won. The number doesn’t include the largest pool of votes from Miami-Dade county, where a Republican observer says Bush picked up a net gain of 42 votes.

9 Dec, 2000

Contests Supreme Court decision

Klain and fellow Gore campaign legal advisor David Boies hold a news conference about the decision to halt the recount:

I think we remain very optimistic about the court — about us ultimately prevailing in the Supreme Court when it hears this case on Monday. We believe that this decision of the Florida Supreme Court was correct, based on state law, and was a faithful and traditional application of this court’s, of this state’s, statutes and precedents in dealing with election contests. And we believe when the Supreme Court ultimately hears this case, that will be their conclusion.

Florida Supreme Court ballot examination

Klain advises the Gore campaign as the Florida Supreme Court and the state judges hearing parallel cases from Seminole and Martin counties. Klain:

[A loss before the state Supreme Court] would be a setback for us — and a major one.

23 Nov, 2000

Advises Gore on Florida recount

Klain acts as a senior adviser to the Gore campaign on the Florida recount. Commenting on the decision to end the recount:

From a legal perspective, this is no different from them deciding at 8 or 9 p.m. on Election night to stop counting votes. ‘They agreed this count was needed and they triggered the count. Because they are not certain they will be able to finish is not a reason to stop the recount.’

15 Jun, 2000

CNN interview


Klain is interviewed for Inside Politics about the Gore campaign’s direction:

It’s the early stage of the campaign. What the vice president is talking about is an agenda to bring progress and prosperity to our country. I think it connects with voters. I think as the campaign goes on, and more and more people focus on that and hear that, his agenda, his message and his record will prevail this fall.

Aug 1999

Leaves Gore campaign

Klain leaves the campaign to join the Washington office of L.A.-based O’Melveny & Myers as a partner. There have been rumors of a rift between him and campaign chairman Tony Coelho but by the time he leaves, the campaign is trying to convince him to stay. Klain:

Tony was doing everything humanly possible to try to get me to stay. ..’You reach a point in time when you need to do something else. My heart said stay, but my head told me to move on.

1 Jan, 1999

Joins Gore campaign

Klain joins the campaign alongside 1996 campaign chairman Peter S. Knight, former chief of staff Jack Quinn, and former House member Tom Downey. Campaign manager Craig Smith:

‘This has been a Clinton-Gore operation for the last six years, not a Clinton operation and not a Gore operation. ‘The Clinton years will become the foundation for Gore to build on.

12 Sep, 1997

Gore memo investigated

Aides to Gore say Klaine wrote a memo for him that was intended to be used at the 1996 White House fund-raiser, outlining strategies for fund-raising including making phone calls to donors. It appears to contradict Gore’s statements that he is not involved in the day-to-day issues of running the fund-raising campaign.

31 Dec, 1995

Appointed Chief of Staff to Gore

Klain is appointed to serve as Gore’s Chief of Staff. Gore:

He brings strong policy, legislative and administrative experience to the job, and has played a key role in coordinating Democratic initiatives on Capitol Hill. Prior to that, I had the opportunity to work closely with him here in the White House, and I welcome him back to the White House in this new and important role.

31 Dec, 1987

Graduates Harvard

Klain graduates Magna cum laude, after attaining the Sears Prize and editing the Harvard Law Review.


Klain, Medina marry


Klain and Medina marry at Georgetown. They hold a rehearsal dinner in the university’s North Hall, and the ceremony is conducted by two professors, Rev. Rakousek and Rabbi White.

31 Dec, 1983

Hired by Markey

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA) hires Klain as legislative director on his graduation from Georgetown. Markey is serving in the House at the time.

What's this? This is an unbiased just-the-facts news timeline ('newsline') about Ron Klain, created by Newslines' contributors. Help us grow it by finding and summarising news. Learn more