By Christi Parsons, Kathleen Hennessey, Tribune Washington Bureau (MCT)
WASHINGTON _ President Obama will name former vice presidential chief of staff Ron Klain as Ebola “czar” to coordinate the administration’s response to the disease, a White House official said Friday.
The move is aimed at better coordinating the U.S. response to the deadly virus and restoring public trust after a series of missteps.
Klain, a longtime Democratic political operative, served as Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff and is a trusted manager at the White House. He left the vice president’s office in 2011 to become president of Case Holdings, the company that manages the business and philanthropic interests of former AOL Chairman Steve Case.
Klain also served as chief of staff for Vice President Al Gore during the Clinton administration.
Obama has been under pressure to take more dramatic action as worries about the spread of the virus have grown_and spilled into campaign season politics. Some Republican critics had pushed for the appointment of an Ebola czar, although most of the criticism of the administration has focused on its resistant to enacting a travel ban on passengers from affected countries in West Africa. Obama suggested Thursday he could also consider travel restrictions in the future.
In his comments Thursday night, Obama hinted he was considering naming a point person to coordinate the government effort. So far, the president’s homeland security advisor Lisa Monaco has been taking on the role at the White House but Obama noted she and others involved have other responsibilities.
“It may make sense for us to have one person to have a more regular process just to make sure that we’re crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s,” he said.
Photo: United States President Barack Obama talks with Ron Klain during presidential debate preparations in Henderson, Nevada on 2 October 2012. Senator John Kerry, background, played the role of Mitt Romney during the preparatory sessions.