Michelle Nunn shifts to back Ebola travel ban as President Obama resists

An ambulance carrying Amber Joy Vinson, the second health care worker to be diagnosed with Ebola in Texas, arrives at Emory University Hospital on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Tulis)

An ambulance carrying Amber Joy Vinson, the second health care worker to be diagnosed with Ebola in Texas, arrives at Emory University Hospital on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Tulis)

The following came in last night from the campaign of Democrat Michelle Nunn, on the subject of Ebola:

“As we continue to gain new information about this horrible disease, our public health officials should take every precaution to make sure that it doesn’t spread. I support a temporary travel ban to affected countries in West Africa with an exception for military and health workers. Scientists and public health experts at the CDC are in the best position to guide our response to this crisis, but our leaders in Washington must provide clear, bipartisan and strong leadership as well as the resources we need to stop the spread of Ebola.”

The statement follows the stampede of legislators to call for a ban on travel between the U.S. and Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, where the Ebola outbreak rages. Georgia Republican U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson released a joint statement calling for a travel ban — except for personnel essential to fight the outbreak.

Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blogNunn’s chief opponent for U.S. Senate, Republican David Perdue, issued a statement late Wednesday supporting a travel ban and bashing President Barack Obama for his handling of the issue.

Nunn’s statement was a departure — apparently given the “new information” — from what she told Channel 2 Action News reporter Lori Geary on Wednesday. Said Nunn:

“I believe the U.S. needs to do more, the world needs to do more to make sure we’re combating this extraordinary crisis and real threat. I believe we need to look to our health care practitioners, the leaders, scientists that are going to make the recommendations based on science, not politics.

“I do believe we don’t let fear and anxiety govern, that we make the hard choices based on the hard facts before us.”

So far the chief health care practitioner, CDC head Tom Frieden, has stayed firm that a travel ban will do more harm than good because Ebola patients will find their way out through porous borders and will be harder to track.

Frieden’s boss stands by him. Via Reuters:

“It may be appropriate for me to appoint an additional person” to oversee efforts to contain Ebola, Obama told reporters, adding that experts have told him “a flat-out travel ban is not the way to go” because current screening measures at airports are working.

He said he had no philosophical objection to a travel ban but that some travelers might attempt to enter the United States by avoiding screening measures, which could lead to more Ebola cases, not fewer.

Nunn is not the only Georgia politician with shifting perspectives.

Rep. Tom Price, R-Roswell, called a travel ban “naive and not helpful” in the Marietta Daily Journal less than two weeks ago. A statement Thursday did not reverse his position, but added this new wrinkle: “Denying entry to the U.S., or requiring a period of quarantine prior to entry, to anyone from an affected country ought to be on the table.”

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Gov. Nathan Deal, whose office has no power over flight bans, said he would also favor more travel restrictions.

“I tend to agree it’s the best thing to do in the short-term,” he said.

The governor faced a new attack from Democrat Jason Carter on his “water kills the Ebola virus” remark. Carter said Deal was spreading “misinformation” about the disease and was unprepared to talk about it in a helpful manner.

Said Carter:

“I lived in the Peace Corps in South Africa, I’ve dealt with disease eradication … One of the most important things is to have the leadership be credible and be able to spread information in ways that matter. It’s irresponsible to tell people not to worry about Ebola, as the governor did, because water cures it.”

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, the commissioner of the state Department of Public Health, said she told the governor that washing hands was one of the best ways to combat the spread of the virus.

“He said that because that’s what I told him,” said Fitzgerald, who referred to research showing Ebola can only survive a few minutes in water. “If we’re going to get a hold of this outbreak, we absolutely have to have the general public washing their hands.”

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Gov. Nathan Deal’s campaign is out with a new attack ad questioning how Democrat Jason Carter will pay for his plan to significantly boost education spending and claim he would “cap and restrict” access to the HOPE scholarship.

“Jason Carter has big ambitions, but his big promises fall short on the truth.”

Carter has ruled out tax increases and said that he would fund the increases by cutting spending and nailing more tax cheats. And the Democrat says income eligibility caps for the popular scholarship are off the table, despite the governor’s warnings.

“I don’t think anybody believes that,” he said at a campaign stop yesterday. “Not even the governor.”

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Obama Bloomberg Nunn Mail Back (2)

Todd Rehm of Georgia Pundit says the above mailer from the National Rifle Association arrived in his mailbox Thursday. It apparently was produced even before the news broke of Michael Bloomberg’s $350,000 donation to a pro-Nunn Super PAC.

The NRA did just report a little less than $200,000 in new spending on mailers in the Georgia race. Expect to see more.

National Right to Life, an anti-abortion group, also reported $41,000 in spending on mailers on Perdue’s behalf.

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The surrogate flood continues in the Senate race’s closing weeks. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., a 2016 dark horse, tells U.S. News’ David Catanese that she will be heading to Georgia to campaign for Michelle Nunn:

“I don’t think anyone is giving up on Georgia,” Klobuchar tells U.S. News. “Look at the funds they have. The fact that people are still helping them shows that people believe. I just think she’s incredibly strong and smart.”

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Because everyone loves a good forecast: Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight now gives Perdue a 61 percent chance of winning Georgia, with a 1.4 percent polling lead, and a January runoff likely. Yippee.

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The Associated Press’ Russ Bynum has the wrap from Statesboro on Augusta Democratic Rep. John Barrow’s debate with Republican Rick Allen. They talked a lot about TV ads:

“I can’t let my wife watch television,” Allen said, when asked about the tone of the race during their debate at Ogeechee Technical College in Statesboro. “It’s hard for us to go to bed at night because I’m getting accused of raising taxes and I’ve never held public office.”

Democratic Party ads have accused Allen’s construction company of profiting from government contracts paid for by tax increases. What the ads don’t say is the projects were funded by penny sales taxes approved by voters at the local level.

Barrow said Allen is hardly innocent when it comes to negative campaigning.

“If someone’s going to complain about things being said about them, maybe they should take stock about what they’re saying,” Barrow said.

He went on to criticize Allen and Republicans for ads that have repeatedly made the claim that Barrow votes with President Barack Obama “85 percent of the time.” Obama’s not very popular in much of the district, and Barrow’s re-election hinges on his ability to win support from independent and conservative voters. Barrow rattled off a list of issues — from health care reform and environmental policies to gun control — on which he’s opposed the president.

“When my opponent tells people that I vote 85 percent of the time with Barack Obama, cherry picks the time frame and treats little issues exactly the same as big issues, he ain’t telling you the truth,” Barrow said.

Republican ads have credited the 85 percent figure to an analysis of a single year — 2009, the first year of Obama’s presidency. However, Barrow said in a 2012 fundraising letter to supporters that while he often crosses party lines, “I have supported the President and the Democratic leadership 85 percent of the time.”

On cue, Barrow put out a new ad this morning, that responds to Super PAC American Future Fund’s nearly $1 million buy against him.

A constituent provides the kicker: “Anyone who says John Barrow isn’t getting things done is lying like a no-legged dog.”

One of Barrow’s claims is the following: “The seniors who kept their Medicare Advantage because John Barrow stopped it from being cut.” The ad’s citation for this is a May story written by one of your Insiders about the 12th District race.

The story does not exactly say that Barrow halted the Medicare Advantage cuts himself. He co-wrote a letter to the Obama administration, along with a Republican colleague, that got 190 signatures from House members from both sides of the aisle urging a stop to the cuts. The administration reversed the cuts a month later.

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This new ad from NumbersUSA, which seeks to reduce immigration into the U.S., has more than $1 million behind it in 10 cities, including Atlanta. It does not mention any senators or candidates by name, but the implication fits in with Republican David Perdue’s hits on Democrat Michelle Nunn for backing “amnesty” in the form of the Senate-passed immigration reform bill.

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Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter finds himself in trouble as Biden’s wife, Jill, arrives in Atlanta today to raise money and campaign for Michelle Nunn. The Wall Street Journal reports that Hunter Biden was discharged from the Navy after testing positive for cocaine.

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Esquire magazine’s Mark Warren surveyed a bunch of members of Congress about why Congress stinks so much. He came away sympathetic to the lawmakers caught in a system that fosters trench warfare. Some thoughts he captured from Georgia’s senators:

“Ninety percent of the good days I have are good days because I have a good attitude, and 90 percent of the bad days I have are when I have a bad attitude. And right now, 100 percent of the Senate days, people have a bad attitude,” says Republican senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia. “And that is caused in large measure because of the nuclear option that Harry Reid exercised [changing Senate rules to allow simple-majority votes on judicial nominees and executive-branch appointments, and removing the opportunity for filibusters in those cases]. And also mischaracterization of things like the filibuster. To merely refuse to vote for cloture and protract debate does not mean you’re filibustering a nominee or an amendment or a legislation. That got repeated in the reporting to where everybody thought we were down there holding everybody up. We weren’t holding everybody up.” …

“It’s pretty easy for us to put the blame on Harry Reid and say, Ya know, Harry fills the tree and doesn’t give us any amendments and by God, we’re gonna put all the blame on him!” says Republican senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia. “But the fact of the matter is, too, that we have some folks who are bound and determined to come up with some wild and crazy amendments that are intended to be purely political amendments rather than doing the business we were sent here to do in a very serious way.”


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