IS and Ebola: Republicans’ Political Arrows for Midterms

It’s now almost three weeks before the midterm elections. The Republicans, aiming for a majority in the Senate, have begun to tap into “two scares” as campaign issues: the threat posed by the Islamic extremist group Islamic State, and a possible Ebola epidemic. On the latter front, they are lacing into President Obama and his fellow Democrats for their dilatory action.

“It’s a big mistake to downplay it [Ebola] and act as if ‘oh, this is not a big deal, we can control all this.’ This could get beyond our control.” That’s what Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a potential 2016 presidential contender, recently said on the Laura Ingraham Show. He also cast into doubt the administration’s judgment of dispatching 3,000 (max. 4,000) American troops to West Africa to reinforce the fight against the virus, pointing out the risk of fleet infection on the way home.

On the heels of the Ebola death of a Liberian man at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, some Republican candidates are addressing illegal immigration and the Ebola outbreak in the same breath.

In battleground states, they are using Obama’s comments about U.S. intelligence having underestimated the Islamic State group threat in their TV ads. With a female nurse who cared for the Liberian now having tested positive, Ebola is one more arrow in their political quiver to shoot at the myopia of the administration.

The Gallup poll released Oct. 13 says that for voters, following the economy and jobs, the efficacy of federal governance and the Islamic State group are among the most important issues. On either issue, the Republicans would potentially enjoy tailwinds. They conceive of the Islamic State group and Ebola as pertinent an example as any to illustrate the dysfunction of the administration.

Nevertheless, it’s by no means that they don’t have anything to worry about going forward; their relentless austerity measures could backfire.

Francis S. Collins, the director of the National Institute of Health, which has been working on Ebola vaccines, told the Huffington Post that “… if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.” Democratic groups have launched tit-for-tat attack ads lambasting the Republicans for their misbegotten budget cuts.

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