Ron Klain

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Not to be confused with Ron Klein.
Ron Klain
Chief of Staff to the Vice President of the United States
In office
January 20, 2009 – January 14, 2011
Vice President Joe Biden
Preceded by David Addington
Succeeded by Bruce Reed
In office
Vice President Al Gore
Preceded by Jack Quinn
Succeeded by Charles Burson
Personal details
Born (1961-08-08) August 8, 1961 (age 53)
Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Georgetown University
Harvard University

Ronald A. "Ron" Klain is an American lawyer and political operative best known for serving as Chief of Staff to two Vice Presidents - Al Gore (1995–1999) and Joseph Biden (2009–2011).[1][2] He is an influential Democratic Party insider. Earlier in his career, he was a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Byron White during the Court's 1987 and 1988 Terms and worked on Capitol Hill, where he was Chief Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination. He was portrayed by Kevin Spacey in the HBO film Recount depicting the tumult of the 2000 presidential election.

Early life[edit]

Klain was born on August 8, 1961 in Indianapolis and grew up in a Jewish home.[3] He graduated from North Central High School[4] in 1979 and was on the school's Brain Game team, which finished as season runner-up.[citation needed] He graduated summa cum laude from Georgetown University in 1983. In 1987, he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School,[4] where he won the Sears Prize for the highest grade point average in 1984-85 and was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.


Capitol Hill career[edit]

Klain's early experience on Capitol Hill included serving as Legislative Director for U.S. Representative Ed Markey. From 1989 to 1992, he served as Chief Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, overseeing the legal staff's work on matters of constitutional law, criminal law, antitrust law, and Supreme Court nominations. In 1995, Senator Tom Daschle appointed him the Staff Director of the Senate Democratic Leadership Committee.

Clinton administration[edit]

Klain joined the Clinton-Gore campaign in 1992. He ultimately was involved in both of Bill Clinton's campaigns, oversaw Clinton's judicial nominations, and was General Counsel to Al Gore's recount committee in the 2000 election aftermath. Some published reports have given him credit for Clinton's "100,000 cops" proposal during the 1992 campaign; at a minimum, he worked closely with Clinton aide Bruce Reed in formulating it. In the White House, he was Associate Counsel to the President, directing judicial selection efforts, and led the team that won confirmation of Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Klain left the judicial selection role in 1994 to become Chief of Staff and Counselor to Attorney General Janet Reno. In 1995, he became Assistant to the President, and Chief of Staff and Counselor to Al Gore.

Gore campaign[edit]

During Klain's tenure as Gore's Chief of Staff, Gore consolidated his position as the likely Democratic nominee in 2000. Still, Klain was seen as too loyal to Clinton by some longtime Gore advisors. Feuding broke out between Clinton and Gore loyalists in the White House in 1999, and Klain was ousted by Gore campaign chairman Tony Coelho in August of that year. In October 1999, he joined the Washington, D.C. office of the law firm of O'Melveny & Myers. A year later, Klain returned to the Gore campaign, once Coelho was replaced by William M. Daley. Daley hired Klain for a senior position in the Gore campaign and then named him General Counsel of Gore's Recount Committee.

Legal career[edit]

In 1994, Time named Klain one of the "50 most promising leaders in America" under the age of 40. In 1999, Washingtonian magazine named him the top lawyer in Washington under the age of 40, and the American Bar Association’s Barrister magazine named him one of the top 20 young lawyers nationwide. The National Law Journal named him one of its Lawyers of the Year for 2000.


Klain helped Fannie Mae overcome "regulatory issues".[5]


During the 2004 Presidential campaign, Klain worked as an adviser to Wesley Clark in the early primaries. Later, during the General Election, Klain was heavily involved behind the scenes in John Kerry's campaign and is widely credited for his role in preparing Senator Kerry for a strong performance in the debates against President George W. Bush, which gave Kerry a significant boost in the polls.[6] He then acted as an informal adviser to Evan Bayh, who is from Klain's home state of Indiana. Klain has also commented on matters of law and policy on televised programs such as the Today Show, Good Morning America, Nightline, Capital Report, NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and Crossfire.

In 2005, Klain left his partnership at O'Melveny & Myers to serve as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of a new investment firm, Revolution LLC, launched by AOL co-founder Steve Case.[citation needed]

Obama administration[edit]

On November 12, 2008, Roll Call announced that Klain had been chosen to serve as Chief of Staff to Vice President Joe Biden, the same role he served for Gore.[7] Klain had worked with Biden previously, having served as counsel to the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary while Biden chaired that committee and assisted Biden's speechwriting team during the 1988 presidential campaign.[8]

Klain was mentioned as a possible replacement for White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel,[9] but opted to leave the White House for a position in the private sector in January 2011.[2]

Klain apparently signed off on President Obama's support of a $535 million loan guarantee for now-defunct solar-panel company Solyndra. Despite concerns about whether the company was viable, Klain approved an Obama visit, stating, "The reality is that if POTUS visited 10 such places over the next 10 months, probably a few will be belly-up by election day 2012."[10]

Personal life[edit]

Klain and his wife, Monica Medina, an environmental activist, and special assistant to the Secretary of Defense live with their children, Hannah, Michael and Daniel in Chevy Chase, Maryland.[11][12]


  1. ^ Allen, Mike (November 13, 2008). "Klain accepts job as Biden chief of staff". Politico.
  2. ^ a b Cooper, Helene C. (January 4, 2011). "Ron Klain Leaving Vice President's Staff". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ Scelfo, Julie (December 6, 2007). "A Holiday Medley, Off Key". The New York Times.
  4. ^ a b Groppe, Maureen (November 14, 2008). "Indy native may serve as Biden's chief of staff". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved 2009-01-05. [dead link]
  5. ^ Mosk, Matthew (November 15, 2008). "Some Former Lobbyists Have Key Roles in Obama Transition". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  6. ^ Martin Kasendorf and Richard Benedetto (September 27, 2004). "Kerry, Bush Curtail Schedules as They Prepare for Duel". USA Today. Retrieved May 11, 2012. 
  7. ^ Koffler, Keith (November 12, 2008). "Sources: Biden Picks Klain to Be Chief of Staff". Roll Call.
  8. ^ Cramer, Richard Ben (1992). What It Takes: The Way to the White House. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-74649-8.  pp. 482.
  9. ^ Henry, Ed (September 8, 2010). "Who might replace Rahm Emanuel?". CNN. Retrieved 9 September 2010. 
  10. ^ Madhani, Aamer (October 3, 2011). "E-mails show White House worried about Solyndra deal". USA Today. Retrieved September 28, 2012. 
  11. ^ "NOAA Leadership: Monica Medina". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved August 14, 2013.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Jack Quinn
Chief of Staff to the Vice President of the United States
Succeeded by
Charles Burson
Preceded by
David Addington
Chief of Staff to the Vice President of the United States
Succeeded by
Bruce Reed