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Ron Klain, Former Chief of Staff, Will Return to Help Biden With Debate

U.S.Ron Klain, Former Chief of Staff, Will Return to Help Biden With Debate

Ron Klain, the president’s former chief of staff, will take some time away from his post-White House job to help President Biden prepare for a debate against Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Klain, who left the White House last year, said in a text message that he would take a vacation from his job as the chief legal officer at Airbnb in the coming weeks to help get Mr. Biden ready.

“On my own time, I will assist,” he said.

Mr. Klain, 62, is one of the president’s most trusted confidants, and was critical to Mr. Biden’s debate preparations during the 2020 campaign.

When he left the White House, Mr. Klain, whom Republicans sometimes referred to as “prime minister” in describing his influence, took with him decades of institutional knowledge about Washington politics, the inner workings of Capitol Hill and an intimate knowledge of the Biden family. He was so well liked within the White House that staff members had a nickname for themselves: “Klainiacs.”

Though he took a nonpolitical job after leaving, Mr. Klain did not end up going very far: He has been summoned to the White House regularly in recent weeks to participate in political strategy discussions, and the president still calls him by phone often.

By the time Mr. Biden told the radio host Howard Stern in April that he was prepared to debate Mr. Trump, Mr. Klain had agreed to help. Days later, Mr. Klain told Jen Psaki, a former Biden White House press secretary who now hosts a television show on MSNBC, that “rules are going to have to be enforced” ahead of any debate between the two men.

“I think what we have to see is something different than we saw in 2016 and 2020, where the debate commission lost control of the debates, Trump didn’t follow the rules at all, he talked over his opponents, there wasn’t a fair division of time, it was more a spectacle than a debate,” Mr. Klain said. “That’s always going to be true with Donald Trump on the stage.”

But, he added, “we need to have debates where the candidates get equal time” and “where the American people can compare the two people who are the leading candidates for president.”


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