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Biden’s Chief of Staff Rumored to Be Leaving White House Before Midterms

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


President Joe Biden’s top White House aide may be set to depart later this year ahead of the 2022 midterm elections that are shaping up to be brutal for Democrats.

Ron Klain, Biden’s chief of staff, is rumored to be heading for the exits, according to NBC News, though he has been a part of the president’s inner circle for many years.

Citing the report, Business Insider noted further:

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Citing multiple sources who spoke anonymously, NBC reports that one person heard Klain speaking of his potential departure.  Klain worked as President Barack Obama’s White House Ebola response coordinator and also previously served as chief of staff to former vice president Al Gore. He also was chief of staff to then-Vice President Joe Biden during the first two years of the Obama administration.

If Klain leaves his role in the Biden White House, which he has held since the start of the administration, potential successors include Anita Dunn, who rejoined the White House earlier this month and has been part of the president’s inner circle for years.

Dunn, who previously served in the White House as a senior advisor from January 2021 to August 2021, is back at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in a senior advisory role.

The Washington Post reported in April that Dunn would become involved in the White House’s response to potential investigations launched by Republicans if the GOP recaptures one or both chambers of Congress during the 2022 midterms. That said, she wasn’t going to be dealing exclusively with those matters.

Other officials who are said to be under consideration to replace Klain include White House counselor Steve Ricchetti and White House domestic policy director Susan Rice.

After he lost the gubernatorial race in Virginia last year, former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe spoke to the Biden White House about the chief of staff position, according to previous reports. He was also in talks to become part of Biden’s Cabinet, according to NBC News.

Neither Klain nor Dunn responded to NBC regarding their original report. But senior White House communications advisor Remi Yamamoto dismissed the Klain rumor and said that he has not laid out any immediate plans regarding a potential departure.

“As Ron has said publicly, he has not set a time frame, and this is not a discussion on the top of anyone’s mind here,” she noted in a statement to NBC.

News about Klain’s possible departure was part of a wider story by NBC News about additional turmoil inside the Biden White House.

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It comes as Biden’s approval ratings have been in a freefall for nearly a year, now reaching a level that is below that of his predecessor.

And he’s not happy about it.

What’s more, according to NBC, he also isn’t pleased with being undermined after nearly every major policy statement he makes, becoming particularly peeved by aides and underlings who quickly ‘correct the record’ and ‘explain what he really meant.’

The outlet reports:

Biden is rattled by his sinking approval ratings and is looking to regain voters’ confidence that he can provide the sure-handed leadership he promised during the campaign, people close to the president say. 

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Crises have piled up in ways that have at times made the Biden White House look flat-footed: record inflation, high gas prices, a rise in Covid case numbers — and now a Texas school massacre that is one more horrific reminder that he has been unable to get Congress to pass legislation to curb gun violence. Democratic leaders are at a loss about how he can revive his prospects by November, when midterm elections may cost his party control of Congress. 

“I don’t know what’s required here,” said Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., whose endorsement in the 2020 Democratic primaries helped rescue Biden’s struggling candidacy. “But I do know the poll numbers have been stuck where they are for far too long.”

The report went on to say that it’s likely major staff shake-ups are looming on the horizon, probably after the midterms.

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“They came in with the most daunting set of challenges arguably since Franklin D. Roosevelt, only to then be hit by a perfect storm of crises, from Ukraine to inflation to the supply chain to baby formula,” said Chris Whipple, the author of a book about White House chiefs of staff who is now writing a book about the Biden presidency. “What’s next? Locusts?”

Apparently, Biden wonders something similar.

“I’ve heard him say recently that he used to say about President Obama’s tenure that everything landed on his desk but locusts, and now he understands how that feels,” a White House official said.

“Biden is frustrated. If it’s not one thing, it’s another,” said a person close to the president.

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