Mr. Klain has moved in and out of government over the past several decades, sometimes practicing as a lawyer and later working with Steve Case, the founder of AOL, at a venture capital firm called Revolution. His original agreement with Mr Case in 2005 provided for the right to take unpaid leave in September and October every four years to participate in presidential politics.
“He can process a lot of information, focus on the things that matter and balance a lot of balls,” Mr Case said of Mr Klain, calling him “unfazed” and pragmatic when it comes to take on a challenge: “’Here is the problem or opportunity. Let’s focus on what matters and put the right team in place. “
Mr Case dismissed some people’s concerns that Mr Klain was too much of a Washington insider at this point in history, noting that as a native of Indiana, Mr Klain often returns home for the ‘Indianapolis 500.
“He’s been in Washington for a long time,” said Case. But he added, “He’s a guy from Indiana. “
During his years mingling with the country’s top Democratic politicians, Mr. Klain has become an expert in helping presidents win Senate confirmation battles. During Mr. Obama’s first term, he played a pivotal role in helping secure Supreme Court judges Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan confirmation.
He has also earned a reputation as a Democratic Party expert in preparing for debates, training virtually all of the party’s presidential and vice-presidential candidates over the past two decades. He has kept few secrets about his frustration with sitting presidents – including Mr. Obama – complaining that they too often refuse to prepare.
A memo for his clients that Mr. Klain prepared years ago has become the party’s best advice for his candidates. Among the 21 rules he described: n ° 10, “punches are good, counter-punches are better”; # 13, which says a candidate can lose a debate at any time but “you can only win it in the first 30 minutes”; and # 20, which warns not to say something that doesn’t seem right.
“At that point, remember the advice a schoolteacher once gave you: ‘If in doubt, don’t do it,’ Klain wrote.