GOP slams Klain pick as Ebola czar

W.H.: Klain right choice for Ebola fight
W.H.: Klain right choice for Ebola fight

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W.H.: Klain right choice for Ebola fight 01:37

Story highlights

  • Republicans are against the president's decision to appoint Ron Klain as the "Ebola czar"
  • Several say Klain's campaign experience is the wrong kind of background for the position
  • Sen. Ted Cruz: "... the answer isn't another White House political operative"
  • WH says Klain has strong management experience and connections in Washington
Republicans who pressed President Barack Obama for a more coordinated federal response to the Ebola outbreak are blasting the appointment of Ron Klain, a veteran Democratic political aide, as the "Ebola czar."
"This appointment is both shocking and frankly tone deaf to what the American people are concerned about," Pennsylvania Rep. Tim Murphy said in a written statement.
Murphy chaired a hearing on Thursday on the federal government's response to the outbreak and said the decision to tap Klain won't calm those Americans who are worried about the spread of the disease.
One after another, top GOP members on Capitol Hill zeroed in on Klain's campaign experience as the wrong kind of background for the post.
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"While the President's pick may have the ear of the White House and experience from the campaign trail, I am concerned he doesn't have significant relationships in the medical community that are imperative during this current biological emergency," House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said.
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McCaul called on the President to rethink his selection, and instead create a permanent position within the government to coordinate the response.
Another Texas Republican wasn't impressed, either.
"We don't need another so-called 'czar'; we need presidential leadership. This is a public health crisis, and the answer isn't another White House political operative," Sen. Ted Cruz said in a statement.
A former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden and also to then-Vice President Al Gore, Klain is currently president of Case Holdings and general counsel of Revolution, an investment group. He has clerked for the U.S. Supreme Court and headed up Gore's effort during the 2000 Florida recount.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-California, also questioned Klain's credentials, asking in a written statement, "why the President didn't pick an individual with a noteworthy infectious disease or public health background?"
But the White House defended the choice, saying it's not just about medical expertise.
Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters, "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's somebody that 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."
GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona suggested on CNN last Sunday that the administration needed one point person. "... I would say we don't know exactly who's in charge. There has to be some kind of czar," McCain said.
But the White House initially resisted the idea, and pointed out that McCain said in 2009 that the Obama administration had "more czars than the Romanovs."