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

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It's a trait that meshes well with the pragmatic, do-what-you-can approach to governing of President Barack Obama's administration. Reed's former and current colleagues say his method is also in sync with Biden's freewheeling but driven personality.

Once considered a potential liability to Obama, Biden has evolved into a serious heavy hitter whose broad portfolio of issues is never far removed from the president's top priorities. It was Biden, not Obama, who finally cut the New Year's deal with the Senate that averted the so-called fiscal cliff. White House officials credit Reed, who turns 53 this month, with steering Biden away from political pitfalls, helping him gauge which battles to fight and just how far to push.

But Reed's influence extends far beyond the vice president's quarters and deep into the West Wing. He's considered a full-fledged member of the economic team, joining the treasury secretary and others when the National Economic Council meets. Last year, he was tapped by Obama's then-chief of staff, Bill Daley, to help coordinate the State of the Union address. When Biden negotiates with Republicans in Congress, Reed is often the only other person on the phone.

And when Obama's most senior advisers meet every morning at 7:40 to set the day's agenda, Reed is there. These mornings, it's Reed who keeps Obama's team up to date on one of the administration's top priorities: gun control.

When the president tasked Biden with crafting a series of proposals to respond to a scourge of mass shootings, the role of chief architect fell to Reed, who cut his teeth on gun issues as Clinton's domestic policy adviser. The ensuing proposal includes broadly supported measures like universal background checks, but also a controversial ban on assault weapons.

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