BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said Tuesday that Republicans are intentionally drumming up fear about Ebola, in response to GOP officials who say the Democratic senator isn’t putting enough pressure on the Obama administration to address public health concerns.
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to “create fear” here at home.
“I wish the Republicans that criticize me morning, noon and night would spend a little more time trying to fashion solutions than create fear. They’re really good at fear mongering, but fear mongering doesn’t build a state and it doesn’t build a country,” the Democratic incumbent said after a campaign event.
She didn’t respond directly to a question about President Barack Obama’s overall response to worries about the virus’ spread in the United States. But she said she was pleased the Homeland Security Department is tightening airport screening for passengers from three West African countries with an Ebola outbreak, screening she urged in a letter to the administration.
Landrieu’s chief Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, has slammed Obama’s response as ineffective. He’s called for a commercial travel ban between the U.S. and the countries with an outbreak of the virus and quarantine for any individual suspected of having the disease until testing rules out infection.
“The president’s feckless leadership is posing an immediate danger,” Cassidy said in a statement. “We must take every preventative measure to keep Louisiana families healthy and prevent Ebola from spreading.”
Republican leaders have criticized Landrieu for not seeking a travel ban and for not publicly calling for more severe containment measures from the Obama administration. The National Republican Senatorial Committee said Landrieu refuses “to stand up to President Obama’s poor decisions.”
The election is Nov. 4. Early voting runs through Oct. 28. However, the outcome of the Senate race isn’t expected to be decided until a Dec. 6 runoff between Landrieu and Cassidy.
Cassidy has repeatedly linked Landrieu to the policies of the president, who is unpopular in Louisiana, while the Democratic senator has tried to distance herself from Obama. But she used the questions Tuesday about Ebola to offer renewed support for the president’s health care overhaul, saying people need to know they have access to treatment.
“One of the reasons that I fight so hard for Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act is that if God forbid anything should happen, people could get care,” Landrieu said.
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