After opposing travel bans from the West African nations at the center of the Ebola crisis for nearly a week, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen today said she is now open to such bans “if they would work.”
The state Republican Party immediately called Shaheen’s statement to New England Cable News a “flip-flop.” Party chairman Jennifer Horn said, “Jeanne Shaheen must have just taken a poll and realized that she was out of step with the vast majority of Americans who favor a travel ban.”
Her Republican challenger, Scott Brown, said, “I’m glad that Jeanne Shaheen has changed her mind and now agrees with me on the issue of a travel ban. It was wrong for her to oppose it in the first place.”
Shaheen first told New England Cable News last Wednesday, Oct. 15, “I don’t think at this stage that a travel ban makes sense. We need to train people and we need to make sure there are resources there to do that.”
President Obama has also opposed a travel ban so far.
Today, however, Shaheen’s campaign told NECN, “Senator Shaheen has contacted New Hampshire officials about local preparedness. She strongly supports any and all effective measures to keep Americans safe including travel bans if they would work.”
Brown first called for a travel ban on Oct. 9 in a radio interview.
Asked specifically if he is in favor of invoking a travel ban to and from West Africa, Brown said, “With regard to your question of, do we curtail flights, yes I think we need to use every tool in the toolbox. I believe we need to be safe, obviously, and logical and thoughtful when we’re dealing with these types of things.”
According to an Oct. 11 story in Foster’s Daily Democrat, however:
“Brown spokeswoman Elizabeth Guyton said he is ‘open to considering’ a travel ban but isn’t calling for one.”
On Oct. 12, Brown’s campaign issued a press release in which he called on Obama to address the nation on how he intends to address the Ebola crisis.
In that statement, Brown said, “Americans need to hear from the President that he has a comprehensive plan to prevent or contain Ebola that includes enhanced airport screenings, travel bans to infected countries and increased security at the border where we are vulnerable to the disease coming in through unmonitored channels.”
State Democratic National Committeewoman Kathy Sullivan noted on Twitter today the Brown campaign comments from Oct. 10 as reported in Foster’s, and wrote, “That’s a flip-flop.”
She also noted Shaheen said on Oct. 11 that “we are going to continue to assess what the situation is and take action based on we see.”
Shaheen’s comments today came after North Carolina Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan changed her position on Friday, saying the Obama administration should “temporarily ban the travel of non-U.S. citizens from the affected countries in West Africa.”
Her North Carolina opponent accused her of flip-flopping.
Last week, Democratic U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter and her GOP opponent, Frank Guinta, agreed that there should be a travel ban.
Brown on Saturday wrote an open letter to Shaheen calling on her to reconsider her opposition.
“This is not the time to put loyalty to President Obama and his policies above doing what’s right to keep Americans safe,” Brown wrote.