Pryor cites Ebola scare to attack Cotton

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A new ad from Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) cites the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to hit GOP opponent Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) for cuts to medical and emergency programs.

The 30-second spot opens with news reports of the current outbreak, the worst in the history of the disease. The ad accuses Cotton of voting against preparedness measures that could help prevent the virus from spreading to the U.S.

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“Congressman Cotton voted to cut billions from our nation’s medical disaster and emergency programs,” says a narrator.

“Instead Cotton voted for tax cuts for billionaires funding his campaign,” adds another voice.

David Ray, a Cotton campaign spokesman, dismissed the ad.

"Senator Pryor's desperation is comical,” he said in a statement. “In Senator Pryor's world, he doesn't have to take responsibility for rubber-stamping the Obama agenda over 90 percent of the time, but wants Arkansans to believe Tom Cotton is responsible for everything from Ebola to crabgrass and male-pattern baldness."

Pryor is facing a tough re-election fight against Cotton. The senator has been slammed over his support for ObamaCare by outside groups including Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group backed by the billionaire Koch brothers.

Pryor, though, has hit back in recent weeks. In a recent ad he went on the offensive and touted his vote for President Obama’s healthcare law, but did not directly mention “ObamaCare” or the “Affordable Care Act.”

The deadly Ebola virus has claimed the lives of more than 1,400 people in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria, but so far there have been no reports of an Ebola case in the U.S.

While there is no approved cure or vaccine for the disease, government health officials have emphasized an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. is highly unlikely given the advanced healthcare infrastructure in the country.

Two missionaries who were infected with Ebola in Liberia were flown back to the U.S. for treatment. They were discharged last week from their hospital in Atlanta.  

This story was updated at 11:54 a.m.