Biden Chooses Clinton Vet as New Chief of Staff

BY Quinn Bowman  January 14, 2011 at 12:39 PM EDT

Vice President Joe Biden announced today that Bruce Reed, who was most recently executive director of the Simpson-Bowles debt commission and is a veteran of the Clinton administration, will replace Ron Klain as his chief of staff.

The move comes after several high-profile changes in the White House. President Obama’s new chief of staff, William Daley, is another Clinton veteran.

In a statement, Vice President Biden said he has known and admired Reed for more than 20 years.

“We worked closely together to pass the crime bill in the 1990s and I’ve frequently sought his advice and counsel in the years since. He brings a unique blend of experience and perspective to this position and his leadership will be a tremendous asset to my office, and to the entire White House,” Biden said in the statement.

Reed was a top policy adviser in the Clinton White House and also the former CEO of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. In the 1980s, he was a speechwriter for Tennessee Senator Al Gore.

The White House also announced that Michael Donilon, brother of National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, will return as Counselor to the Vice President.

A June 2010 New York Times story about then-Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s tenure in the Clinton White House identifies Reed as the leader of a centrist camp that was at odds with traditional liberals during that administration:

Along that fault line, Ms. Kagan, now President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, was situated squarely in the camp of the centrist New Democrats as deputy to her college friend Bruce Reed, the White House domestic policy director and veteran of the Democratic Leadership Council that advocated a “third way.” Mr. Reed coined the phrase “end welfare as we know it” and promoted the measure that Mr. Clinton signed into law requiring work and setting time limits. He advocated charter schools, free-trade pacts and more police officers on the beat.

And for two years, from 1997 to 1999, Ms. Kagan served as Mr. Reed’s lieutenant in those battles. Whether her work reflected her personal beliefs or those of her boss is still debated in Clinton circles, but either way her formative years in politics were spent in the trenches with Mr. Reed.

President Obama’s choice of Daley for chief of staff, and the compromise with Senate Republicans that extended all of the Bush tax cuts for two years, drew criticism from the president’s liberal base. Adding another centrist Democrat to the upper ranks of the White House staff could cause some consternation among those same critics.