Fears that the West Africa
What was once called a campaign about nothing has actually been anything but, with clashes in Ukraine, the rise of Islamic State militants and a flood of unaccompanied minors at the southwestern U.S. border testing campaigns' ability to adapt their playbook on the fly. The transmission of the Ebola virus within the United States has piqued voter interest in a way that other issues have not, both parties say.
At a House hearing Thursday, one lawmaker said
"People are asking that we do that, and they are exactly correct to make that request," said Rep.
Obama "loves bragging about the things he can do with a pen and a phone -- many of which are things that he can't do," said Scalise, the majority whip. "He can approve a travel ban today, and we've called on him to do that."
The intensity of interest in the Ebola issue drew two House members running in hotly contested Senate races, Democrat
Hours later, Braley sought to turn the issue against Republicans during a televised debate, saying the party's zeal to cut federal spending resulted in cuts to the
That such an external development late in a campaign could knock candidates off stride is hardly unprecedented. Some Republicans still believe
Friday's appointment of Ron Klain as the administration's Ebola czar -- something even Democrats had begun to publicly call for -- was warmly greeted by party leaders, though some Republicans questioned the choice of a longtime Democratic political operative with no medical experience. The White House accused the GOP of playing politics.
"Three weeks before Election Day, Republicans are seeking to score political points?"
Democrats have known for more than a year that they would be running in a difficult political environment and planned accordingly, stockpiling millions of dollars to protect the Senate majority and crafting an agenda intended to play to Democratic strengths, like boosting the minimum wage and protecting access to contraceptive care.
Republicans now say Democrats' attempts to stay on message as these other crises developed left them looking out of touch with the electorate.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted this month found that the economy was still the leading issue voters said would determine their vote for Congress. But the same survey found that nearly two-thirds of Americans were concerned about the possibility of an Ebola epidemic in the United States, and the dominance of the story on cable news threatened to crowd the debate with voting already underway in many states.
"What the American people pay attention to is usually radically different than what we pay attention to," said Rob Collins, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "The continual crises that this administration has found themselves in has been something that has been a constant theme and something that the American people are paying attention to."
After Thursday's hearing, Scalise insisted Republicans were not politicizing the Ebola scare, praising members of both parties for their "serious, sincere, direct questions" at the hearing.
"This is not a political issue," he insisted. "I think there were a lot of unanswered questions from members on both sides of the aisle today. And so we're going to continue to ask these questions."