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Bridging the partisan divide: VP's chief of staff is 'Mr. Fix-It'

Bruce Reed, chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, has a reputation for getting along with both parties, and often plays a key role in pushing the Obama administration's agenda.

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Vice President Joe Biden's Chief of Staff Bruce Reed has lunch with President Barack Obama in Washington in August 2011. Friends and colleagues of Reed call him understated, self-effacing, non-threatening, even refreshingly old-fashioned.

Susan Walsh/AP/File

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Understated. Self-effacing. Nonthreatening. Refreshingly old-fashioned.

Don't let these cool descriptors from friends and colleagues fool you: As the vice president's chief of staff, Bruce Reed plays Mr. Fix-It, guiding Joe Biden's role as a driving force behind the Obama administration's agenda.

With the White House wrestling Congress over gun control and tax-and-spending priorities, Reed's deep ties to the Oval Office and reputation for getting along with both parties make him a central character in some of Washington's biggest political battles.

Those who know Reed say his low-key style and consensus-oriented approach to deal-making are the keys to how he's managed time and again to bridge an ever-widening gap between Democrats and Republicans — even when it rankles partisan Democrats who see concessions to the GOP as selling out.

"It gets characterized from an ideological perspective, meaning centrist vs. leftist. Bruce would probably see it more as, 'Are you a reformer and willing to make changes to accomplish the same goals?'" said Chicago mayor and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who co-wrote a policy book with Reed after they served together in the Clinton administration.

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