Denis McDonough Likely Pick For Chief Of Staff as Ron Klain Says He's Out Of Running


Ron Klain has said he will not be the president's chief of staff, according to a source familiar with the situation, who spoke to PolicyMic on condition of anonymity. 

Last week it was reported that Klain and Denis McDonough were the top contenders to replace Jack Lew as President Obama's chief of staff. Lew will vacate that position pending his confirmation as Secretary Tim Geithner's replacement at Treasury. 

This means that McDonough, 43, appears to be the likeliest successor to Lew. McDonough has served as Deputy National Security Advisor since October 2010, and was previously the chief of staff to the National Security Council. He was also a senior policy adviser to Obama while he was a senator. 

Klain, 51, was Vice President Biden's chief of staff from from January 2009 to January 2011, and was also Vice President Al Gore's chief of staff from 1995 to 1999. He was named General Counsel for Gore's Recount Committee during the 2000 Florida vote recount. Political movie buffs may recall that Klain was played by Kevin Spacey in the HBO original film, Recount.

According to Caren Bohan writing in National Journal, "Obama has long had a tendency to rely heavily for advice on a handful of close aides. Some critics see this approach as too insular but as Obama prepares to take the oath of office for a second time, he has not shown any inclination to want to change this aspect of his management style." 

It appears Obama will stay true to form on this occasion.

McDonough's lengthy tenure as an aide to Obama was believed to make him the more likely pick, and this latest development would seem to confirm this assumption. He would bring extensive foreign policy experience to the position, having worked as a staffer on the House on Foreign Relations Committee from 1996 to 1999, in addition to his experience at the NSC and as the Deputy National Security Advisor. A McDonough pick is unlikely to signal a shift in emphasis toward foreign policy issues, as domestic economic concerns will weigh heavily on his second term agenda, especially with the House of Representatives in Republican hands.