Obama Picks Ebola 'Czar'

Ron Klain, who was chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden and former Vice President Al Gore, will be Obama's point-man for dealing with the Ebola outbreak. The New York Times reported that Klain's duties will involve handling the nation's response to Ebola both domestically and in Africa.

President Barack Obama will name a former administration official as his “Ebola czar,” according to multiple news reports.

Ron Klain, who was chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden and former Vice President Al Gore, will be Obama’s point-man for dealing with the Ebola outbreak. The New York Times reported that Klain’s duties will involve handling the nation’s response to Ebola both domestically and in Africa.

The move caps a week in which Obama has made Ebola his top priority, canceling a number of planned campaign trips in order to focus on the outbreak.

Klain is currently president of Case Holdings and general counsel at Revolution LLC. Case Holdings is the holding company for former AOL Chairman Steve Case. Revolution LLC is Case’s investment company.

CNN, which first broke the news, said Klain is known for his strong relationships with Capitol Hill and his management skills. He is not, however, a medical doctor.

The new “czar” will be working with the national security advisor and homeland security teams.

The news comes just 2 days after White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest rebuffed the idea that an Ebola czar was necessary

“As it relates to a so-called Ebola czar, I’ll reiterate what we’ve said in the past on this, which is that we’ve designated very clear lines of responsibility in terms of which agencies are responsible for which aspects of the response,” Earnest said, in a press briefing. He noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security were all working on the issue.

However, on Thursday Obama hinted that he was changing his mind.

“It may be appropriate for me to appoint an additional person, not because they haven’t been doing an outstanding job, really working hard on this issue, but because they are also responsible for a whole bunch of other stuff,” Obama said.

To date, only 2 people have contracted Ebola in the US — both healthcare workers who treated a Liberian man who contracted the virus while in Africa. Globally, nearly 9,000 people have been diagnosed with Ebola, and about half of those people have died. The vast majority of Ebola patients are in the African countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

Image source: Revolution LLC