Huffpost Politics

Democratic sources: Biden chooses chief of staff

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CHICAGO — Vice President-elect Joe Biden chose as his chief of staff a man who once served in that same role for Vice President Al Gore, Democratic officials said Thursday.

Ron Klain also was an adviser for Biden during his Democratic primary bid and helped the Delaware senator prepare for the vice presidential debate during the fall campaign.

The officials disclosed Biden's selection on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly for President-elect Barack Obama's transition team.

Klain is the latest former Clinton administration official that Obama has turned to as he moves from campaigning to governing and sets up his own administration.

Last week, Obama named Rahm Emanuel, a former Clinton political and policy adviser in the White House, as his chief of staff, and former Clinton veteran John Podesta is among those leading his transition team.

And on Wednesday, Obama named a team heavy on experience in the Clinton administration to help guide transition efforts in the State, Defense and Treasury departments. He named two leaders for each of the three agencies, and all six served in some capacity under President Bill Clinton.

Democratic officials also say that the Obama campaign's director of advance, Emmett Beliveau, has been tapped to run the Jan. 20 inauguration.

In the coming days, Obama's transition team is preparing to announce a slate of senior positions, including the likely appointments of campaign senior adviser Robert Gibbs as White House press secretary and chief strategist David Axelrod as a top White House adviser.

Klain is a former partner in the Washington law and lobbying firm O'Melveny & Myers.

Senate lobbying records show that at the firm, Klain's lobbying clients included Fannie Mae, U.S. Airways, Time Warner and the Coalition for Asbestos Resolution, a business group that sought government help resolving asbestos lawsuits. However, the most recent lobbying Klain appears to have done was in 2004 for Fannie Mae and Time Warner.

He was involved in both of Clinton's presidential campaigns, and was Gore's top aide in the vice presidential office for several years. He later had a senior role in Gore's 2000 campaign, including the Florida recount and Supreme Court standoff that ultimately tipped the election to George W. Bush. Actor Kevin Spacey played Klain in the 2008 HBO film "Recount."

In 2004, Klain was among several veterans of the Clinton-Gore political campaigns who advised retired Gen. Wesley Clark in the Democratic primaries. He backed Biden, whom he had known from working with Senate committees, four years later.


Associated Press writers Nedra Pickler and Laurie Kellman in Washington contributed to this report.