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President Barack Obama will appoint Ron Klain to head up efforts to address the Ebola threat, a senior administration official tells NBC News.
Klain is a former chief of staff to both Vice President Joe Biden and former Vice President Al Gore. He left the vice president's office in 2011. He is now the president of Case Holdings and serves as the general counsel for Revolution, an investment organization.
"It’s not solely a medical response," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. "That’s why somebody with Mr. Klain’s credentials -- somebody that has strong management experience both inside government but also in the private sector; he is somebody who has strong relationships with members of Congress; and obviously strong relationships with those of us who worked with him here at the White House earlier in the administration. All of that means that he is the right person."
Obama signaled his openness to appointing an Ebola "czar" Thursday night, telling reporters that it "may be appropriate" to elevate an additional person to coordinate the U.S. response. (White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that Klain's official title is not czar, but Ebola Response Coordinator.)
Klain will report directly to White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice and the president’s Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco. He is tasked with protecting Americans from the disease and making sure the response is coordinated with the U.S. effort to stop Ebola in West Africa.
The White House had previously resisted the idea of a czar, saying that the administration had already established clear lines of responsibility for handling the threat.
But Obama faced pressure from critics who argue that the nation's hospitals are not prepared for an outbreak of the virus.
The choice of Klain did not assuage some detractors. Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson weighed in on Twitter.