- He becomes the second Indian American on the team after Washington insider Gautam Raghavan.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden has named former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to his transition team. Also named are Pete Buttigieg, former South Bend, Indiana mayor and former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate; Jeffrey Zients, the top Obama economic adviser, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who Biden considered for the vice presidential nomination; Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, a top Biden surrogate and national co-chair of his campaign; and Anita Dunn, a senior campaign adviser.
Murthy, 43, who served as the 19th Surgeon General of the United States from December 2014 to April 2017, has been advising Biden’s campaign on policy and campaign tactics amid the coronavirus pandemic. Murthy was previously named to the Biden-Sanders Joint Task Forces, which crafted the Democratic policy platform of the Biden administration.
Murthy, who was born in England and raised in Miami, had taken the oath of office as the surgeon general on the Bhagavad Gita and was the highest ranking Indian American in the Obama administration.
Murthy formally endorsed Biden during the Democratic National Convention. In his Aug. 20 address, he hailed Biden’s support for immigrants and his leadership to deal with crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden “is the leader who will heal the country” after getting elected as the president, Murthy said, adding: “Americans need a leader who works with the people for the progress of the country.”
Murthy said it is not typical for a former Surgeon General to speak at a party convention but the highest duty of the nation’s top doctor is to the public and true guide is science.
“Our job is to speak the truth about public health even when it’s controversial or perceived as political. So here’s the truth. Our nation absolutely has what it takes to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic that’s claimed tens of thousands of our loved ones. We have the talent, resources and technology. What we’re missing is leadership,” Murthy said.
Recounting an incident where Biden met Murthy’s grandmother, he said: “Six years ago, when Biden met my family, many of them immigrants awed to be in the nation’s capital, I saw how he kneeled beside my grandmother’s wheelchair, took her hands in his and said, ‘Thank you for choosing us, the United States of America, as the place to trust with your family,” he said. “Tonight, as a father, son and grandson, as a doctor who swore an oath and as an American who loves my country, I can tell you that Biden is the man I trust to look out for my family and the leader I know will heal this nation,” he added.
Having worked with Biden, Murthy said he has seen who Biden is “with no cameras around, how he sits with people and their pain and holds them in his heart. Biden pours over COVID briefings, asks smart questions and lets science guide his way, just as he did when managing the Ebola crisis,” Murthy said.
During his video remarks, a photograph (above) of Murthy, flanked by his parents and wife and being sworn-in as the U.S. Surgeon-General by Biden, was displayed.
In April 2017, Murthy, a graduate of Harvard University and Yale Medical School, was asked by the Trump Administration to resign from his duties as Surgeon General.
Earlier in June, Gautam Raghavan, former chief of staff to Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), was named to the transition team. Raghavan had earlier endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the primary. He joined Jayapal in December 2018, after she was re-elected to a second term with a whopping majority. Prior to that, Raghavan worked as a consultant with GR Strategies in Washington, D.C., before which he served as vice president of Policy for the Gill Foundation, where he managed multi-million-dollar investments in federal and state level policy advocacy focused on equal treatment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Americans. From 2011 to 2014, Raghavan served as President Barack Obama’s liaison to the LGBTQ community as well as the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Before that he was the Acting White House Liaison for the U.S. Department of Defense and as Outreach Lead for the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Working Group.