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Three weeks before Election Day, Republicans are hoping to rally the GOP faithful and cripple President Barack Obama with a scary, one-word campaign ploy: Ebola. With news that a second health care worker who cared for an Ebola patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas has contracted the virus, some Republicans are moving quickly to blame Obama and the White House for not working hard enough to protect Americans from the deadly disease.

Amber Joy Vinson, the second Dallas health-care worker diagnosed with Ebola, traveled Monday on a Frontier Airlines flight from Cleveland to Dallas to plan a wedding, so health officials announced Wednesday they are contacting the 132 passengers from the flight to alert them as a precaution. Vinson, who is Black, joins 75 other health care workers in Dallas who are already being monitored for any Ebola symptoms.

Vinson was flown to Emory Hospital in Atlanta for treatment Wednesday. For Republicans, nothing is sacred so while it may not surprise pundits that some in the GOP are trying to capitalize on the Ebola outbreak before the mid-term elections, it’s still a despicable campaign strategy. The GOP has been critical of the White House response to the Ebola crisis, turning it into a campaign issue and calling for stricter travel restrictions for people coming to the United States from West Africa. Two Republicans wrote to President Obama on Monday urging him to appoint an Ebola “czar” but the White House rebuffed the idea.

This particular Republican scare tactic is sinister because Republicans know Obama can’t control a deadly virus that is raging out of control in West Africa, but it plays on the fears of conservative voters who never liked Obama anyway. The GOP is portraying Obama as a weak leader who can’t – or won’t — control the spread of Ebola.

There’s a lot at stake: With national mid-term elections scheduled for Nov. 4, Republicans could take control of the Senate – and control Congress. Vulnerable Democratic candidates in places like Kentucky, North Carolina, Arkansas and Louisiana are targets for Republicans and the Ebola crisis strategy could play well in these southern states. Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, likened the White House to a rudderless ship in its handling of the Ebola crisis.

“My constituents are not comforted,” McCain said during an appearance on CNN. “There has to be more reassurance given to them. I would say that we don’t know exactly who’s in charge.”

It’s a ridiculous accusation and there’s also a thinly veiled racial component that is whispered in some circles around Washington, D.C.: Some black Democrats say the GOP is sending a subtle message that Obama, who is half Kenyan, will not agree to tougher travel restrictions on people from Africa, simply because he is African and feels a particular connection to the continent. This further perpetuates anxiety among some ultra-conservatives who still believe Obama is a Muslim who favors people of color.

But here’s what we know: Obama receives daily updates about the Ebola outbreak and he has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to move as quickly as possible in investigating the apparent breach of infection control procedures at the Texas hospital where patient Thomas Duncan died from Ebola.  On Wednesday, Obama postponed a political trip to stay at the White House to convene a Cabinet-level meeting about the Ebola outbreak.

Blame It On A Brother: Ebola Concerns More Political Than Practical  was originally published on

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