Republicans vented their frustration Sunday with the White House’s newly appointed Ebola czar, accusing President Obama of naming a spin doctor instead of a real doctor.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee Republican, said that Ron Klain, who was named Friday as White House Ebola response coordinator, has extensive experience in the Democratic Party politicking but not in the field of public health.
Mr. Klain, former chief of staff for both Vice President Joseph R. Biden and former Vice President Al Gore, was the Democrats’ lead lawyer in the 2000 presidential recount.
“I don’t know Ron Klain’s emergency response experience — maybe the Bush-Gore recount qualified as that — and I think that in talking to constituents, so many people said, ‘We didn’t want somebody to give us spin, we want somebody who would give us the facts.’ And that’s what they were hopeful for,” Ms. Blackburn said on “Face the Nation.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, defended the appointment Sunday, saying that Homeland Security Adviser Lisa Monaco and National Security Adviser Susan Rice are now coordinating the response.
“Right now what we’re going to have with Ron is somebody whose full-time job is doing that, so we actually welcome that, because as we know, Lisa and Susan have other very important day jobs that they need to deal with,” Dr. Fauci said on Fox News Sunday. “So we’re looking forward to working with him as a coordinator of what we do.”
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Mr. Klain has been praised for his managerial prowess and government experience, but Republicans have complained that his appointment shows the White House is more concerned with managing the public relations effort than the public health threat.
“Mr. Klain is not a doctor, he’s not a health care professional, he doesn’t have background in these issues,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Mr. Cruz was asked by CNN’s Candy Crowley whether it matters more to appoint someone with organizational skills to “give the public the feeling that the government is on top of this?”
“We should be less concerned about giving the public the feeling that the government is on top of this and more concerned about the government actually being on top of it,” Mr. Cruz replied. “This is a manifestation. We don’t need another White House political operative, which is what Mr. Klain has been.”