Tags: Ebola Outbreak | travel | bans | Ebola | Obama

Democrats in About-Face, Now Calling for Ebola Travel Bans

By    |   Saturday, 18 October 2014 09:04 PM

Democrats are now sounding more like Republicans on the Ebola crisis, with candidates in critical races calling this week for travel bans to avoid being tied to yet another Obama administration debacle as Election Day nears.

"It is just common sense that we need a travel ban from West Africa," Democratic pollster and analyst Doug Schoen told Newsmax on Saturday. "And Democrats have realized that in tight Senate races that hang in the balance it is common sense, not partisanship, that gives them the best chance of getting elected."

This is particularly acute "in a year where the president's job approval is at or below 40 percent in swing states," Schoen said.

Perhaps the biggest flip-flop came on Friday, when North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan called for a West African ban — two days after dismissing it as a way to contain the deadly disease.

"I have said for weeks that travel restrictions should be one part of a broad strategy to prevent Ebola from spreading in the U.S. and fighting it in Africa," Hagan said in a statement on Friday. "I am calling on the administration to temporarily ban the travel of non-U.S. citizens from the affected countries in West Africa.

"Although stopping the spread of this virus overseas will require a large, coordinated effort with the international community, a temporary travel ban is a prudent step the President can take to protect the American people, and I believe he should do so immediately," Hagan said.

But on Wednesday, Hagan said on a campaign stop in Charlotte that a West African travel ban was "not going to help solve this problem. That's not going to contain the epidemic that we see happening in Africa."

She also heaped praise on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, saying that they were "certainly giving us great guidance, but we've got to make sure the implementation is perfect."

Both organizations have come under harsh attack by Republicans for missteps in the Ebola crisis — and reports surfaced this week that poor communication and a leadership vacuum plagued the WHO's response to the outbreak in West Africa.

"When they talk about these breaches, we are going to learn from these mistakes," Hagan said on Wednesday. "These are life crises, mistakes that we cannot make."

Hagan's Republican opponent, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, immediately jumped on Hagan's turnabout on Friday, saying on Twitter: "When I came out strongly for an Ebola travel ban, Sen. Hagan said it wouldn't help. Now she agrees with me?"

Tillis first called for the travel ban on Oct. 2, The Weekly Standard reports.

Two Democrats also running in heated contests, Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, who is trailing GOP Rep. Tom Cotton, and Georgia nonprofit executive Michelle Nunn, who is squaring off against Republican businessman David Perdue, have called for travel bans.

Both Republicans called for restrictions shortly after news reports surfaced that Thomas Eric Duncan had become the first U.S. Ebola patient. Duncan, 42, died on Oct. 8 in a Dallas hospital from the disease.

Duncan came to the United States four days after helping a pregnant woman in Liberia who later died from the disease. He did not tell U.S. screening officials that he had contact with someone carrying Ebola.

Two nurses who were among the 70 medical professionals treating Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital have since contracted Ebola.

They are Nina Pham, 26, who is now at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland for treatment, and Amber Joy Vinson, 29, who is being cared for at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Other analysts attribute the Democratic turnabouts to a fear that Republicans see a chance to tie the crisis to Obama's ineffective leadership.

"This is feeding into the Republican narrative that Democrats don't know how to govern and government is too large," Jim Manley, a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, told The Washington Post.

Manley told the Post that Democrats were "desperate to try to demonstrate that they have tough ideas to respond to the crisis."

But Republicans stepped up their calls for a travel ban throughout the week, while others slammed President Barack Obama's choice of a longtime political operative with no medical experience, Ron Klain, to head the administration's response to the crisis.

Klain, 53, a lawyer and former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden and to former Vice President Al Gore, will report to National Security Adviser Susan Rice and the president’s homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco.

He has a long background in politics, including representing Gore in the Florida recount in 2000. His official biography lists no experience in public health.

"What has been missing from this administration’s response to Ebola is not a new figurehead," Michigan Rep. Fred Upton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said after the appointment was announced. "What we need is a strategy to get ahead of this, and restore the public’s faith that they are safe."

Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Tim Murphy, whose oversight committee grilled CDC officials on the situation on Thursday, called Klain's selection “shocking and frankly tone-deaf to what the American people are concerned about."

The changes among Democrats also come as surveys show that Americans have little faith in the CDC's ability to handle the Ebola crisis.

Sixty percent of Americans surveyed this week by CBS News rated the agency as fair or poor, compared with 37 percent who rated it as excellent or good.

And a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows 67 percent of Americans supported restricting entry to the United States from countries dealing with an Ebola crisis.

Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn slammed the vague answers administration officials gave at the House subcommittee hearing on Thursday.

"This is just something where you've got to say: 'Come on. You guys get your act together and let's go to work on this,' " the Republican told Newsmax after the session.

"We're here to work with them," Blackburn added. "We're here to protect the American people — and it was disappointing that they couldn't answer the questions.

"They knew we were going to have this hearing," she said. "They've known about this hearing for nearly two weeks."

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Democrats are now sounding more like Republicans on the Ebola crisis, with candidates in critical races calling this week for travel bans to avoid being tied to yet another Obama administration debacle as Election Day nears. It is just common sense that we need a travel...
travel, bans, Ebola, Obama
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2014-04-18
Saturday, 18 October 2014 09:04 PM
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