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Obama Taps Ex-White House Adviser as 'Ebola Czar


“What we were looking for was not an Ebola expert but rather an implementation expert."

President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with more than 20 foreign defense ministers on the ongoing operations against the Islamic State group, Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Obama and military chiefs in a show of strength against Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Barack Obama will appoint former White House adviser Ron Klain as his “Ebola czar” to coordinate the federal government’s response to the spread of the disease.

The White House confirmed the appointment Friday that CNN first reported.

While the White House initially resisted the notion of a "czar" pushed by some Republicans, including Arizona Sen. John McCain, Obama said Thursday that naming a single point person to supervise the coordination makes sense.

"It may make sense for us to have one person ... so that after this initial surge of activity, we can have a more regular process just to make sure that we're crossing all the T's and dotting all the I's going forward," Obama said.

Klain oversaw the distribution of federal funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus. He previously served as chief of staff for both Vice President Joe Biden and Vice President Al Gore. Klein is currently the president of Case Holdings.

As a presidential campaign aide for Gore, he headed the effort in the 2000 recount in Florida.

Klain will report directly to White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Obama’s homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday. The White House previously said that Monaco was the point person for coordinating the federal response.

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, expressed disappointment in the choice.

“This appointment is both shocking and frankly tone deaf to what the American people are concerned about,” Murphy said in a statement. “Installing yet another political appointee who has no medical background or infectious disease control experience will do little to reassure Americans who are increasingly losing confidence with the Administration’s Ebola strategy.”

Earnest was pressed several times on why Obama chose someone without medical expertise. He responded that the federal response is more than a medical response, involving multiple government agencies.

“The president wanted someone who could serve in a coordinating function to manage the implementation of our whole government approach,” Earnest said. “What we were looking for was not an Ebola expert but rather an implementation expert. That’s exactly what Ron Klain is. He is somebody who has extensive experience in the federal government. He is somebody who has extensive management experience when it comes to the private sector.”

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