- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor hemmed and hawed when asked whether the Obama administration has done a good job handling the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, which has infected five Americans and spread terror across the United States.

“Uhhhhm, I would say — it’s hard to know because, um, I haven’t heard the latest briefing on that,” Mr. Pryor, one of the most endangered Senate Democrats, said when tossed the softball question by NBC News reporter Kasie Hunt.

A clip of the uncomfortable exchange was aired Tuesday on NBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“Obviously I read the paper and all,” continued Mr. Pryor, grappling for a response. “But the impression is that we have people over there, both from CDC and other medical-type people and even some engineers who try to build, you know, medical facilities. That’s what they need over there. They need the medical infrastructure.”

Ms. Hunt pressed him further, asking: “Has [Obama] been aggressive enough in helping them get it?”

Mr. Pryor replied: “Um — again, I’d have to see the latest numbers.”

Ms. Hunt told the “Morning Joe” hosts that she “thought he would have a yes or no answer.”

Mr. Pryor previously weathered criticism for a TV ad in August that accused his Republican opponent, Rep. Tom Cotton, of leaving America exposed to the threat of Ebola or a global pandemic by voting to “cut billions from our nation’s medical disaster and emergency programs.”

Still, Mr. Pryor’s fumbling underscored the challenge facing Senate Democrats locked in tough races this year. They want to distance themselves from the unpopular Mr. Obama but can’t completely disavow his policies that they’ve mostly supported.

Mr. Pryor is among about 10 endangered Senate Democrats that have put the party’s majority in the upper chamber in jeopardy this year. Republicans need a net gain of six seats to seize control of the Senate.

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