Sources: Biden Picks Klain to Be Chief of Staff

Posted November 12, 2008 at 4:38pm

Vice President-elect Biden has asked veteran Congressional and White House staffer Ron Klain to be his chief of staff in the White House, according to Democratic insiders.

Klain, who served in the same position for former Vice President Gore, also worked from 1989-1992 for Biden when Biden was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and is known to be close to the vice president-elect. “Klain is a Biden guy,” said one Democratic source knowledgeable about the situation. Sources said Klain has either accepted the position already or is expected to do so.

The selection of Klain could signal that Biden intends to play a strong role within the White House and guard whatever turf he can carve out for himself. Klain is an experienced White House player who worked for Gore in the late 1990s, just as tensions were growing in the White House between loyalists to President Clinton and Gore loyalists as the vice president ramped up his effort to succeed Clinton.

Klain’s expected move back into his old position will set up a parallel situation to the Clinton years, when Rahm Emanuel, incoming chief of staff to President-elect Obama, served as a top Clinton confidant — ensconced in the small room next to the Oval Office — while Klain presided over Vice President Gore’s fiefdom.

Klain left Gore’s office in late 1999 but soon made his way back into Gore’s orbit, taking a senior position with the campaign and serving as general counsel for Gore during the Florida recount. He also advised Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) during Kerry’s unsuccessful run for president in 2004.

Klain was not available to speak, and the Obama campaign has not yet responded to a request for comment. Klain currently serves as general counsel for Revolution, a business development company founded in 2005 by former AOL Chief Executive Officer Steve Case.

Meanwhile, Biden and his wife, Jill, will travel to the Naval Observatory Thursday evening to meet with Vice President Cheney and his wife, the Obama campaign announced Wednesday afternoon.