Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan on Sunday defended her call for a ban on travel from countries affected by the Ebola epidemic and denied that it represented a change of position.
Hagan was asked about a travel ban after an appearance at Charlotte’s Central Piedmont Community College, where she criticized Republican Thom Tillis’ education record.
Hagan’s appearance came on the first day of a four-day “North Carolina First” tour across the state.
At a news conference in Charlotte last week, she said a travel ban should be part of a broader strategy to contain the disease. However, she said, “that is not going to help solve this problem,” adding, “That’s not going to contain the epidemic that we see happening in Africa.”
On Friday, Hagan issued a statement calling for the administration to temporarily ban the travel of non-U.S. citizens from affected African countries. Republicans have accused her of flip-flopping on a ban.
On Sunday, Hagan said she called for the travel ban after a second Texas health care worker tested positive for Ebola.
“Nothing has changed,” she said. “Now that we’ve had two incidents in the U.S. of individuals (diagnosed) ... we need to have a temporary travel ban. ... If you listen to the whole discussion, it was part of an overall strategy. The travel ban is one part. … But we also should be working with our international partners and with investments in this country on Ebola research development.”
Tillis spokesman Daniel Keylin dismissed Hagan’s “desperate attempt to rewrite her failed record.”
“Sen. Hagan endorsed President (Barack) Obama’s lack of a strategy, praised the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s) botched response to Ebola and amazingly claimed that a common-sense travel ban wouldn’t work,” he said Sunday. “Sen. Hagan’s desperate attempt to spin her flip-flop by misleading the media is another example of the same excuses and failed leadership we’ve seen from President Obama.”
Attending Hagan’s news conference were about 60 people, including many educators. She shared a stage with two lawmakers and a teacher and a college student who’d appeared in TV ads on her behalf.
Later Hagan was asked whether she’d reconsidered attending a debate scheduled for Tuesday sponsored by the Observer, The (Raleigh) News & Observer and Time-Warner Cable news. Tillis is the only invited candidate scheduled to attend.
“We agreed on three debates, and we had those three debates,” Hagan said. “And I am going all across North Carolina. We will have an opportunity for the citizens of North Carolina to talk to me one on one, on the ground.”