Republicans are pointing to Democratic operative Ron Klain's background in politics — rather than public health — as evidence that he isn’t up to the job as "Ebola czar."
The criticism comes after the White House announced Friday that Klain, a longtime aide to Democratic campaigns and a former chief of staff for Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore, would oversee the administration’s response to the virus.
Critiques began shortly after Klain’s appointment was reported, and initially came from more conservative members of the House.
“[President Obama] selects Ron Klain (lawyer, former Biden & Gore COS) as Ebola czar. God forbid he select a doctor,” Rep. Blake FarentholdBlake FarentholdOvernight Energy: Backlash to Trump’s proposed EPA cuts grows Watchdog piles on criticism of offshore drilling regulator Federal court: Texas House districts must be redrawn MORE (R-Texas) tweeted.
He was joined in taking aim at the appointment by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) and Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).
As the day went on, others joined in the chorus.
"Given the mounting failings in the Obama administration’s response to the Ebola outbreak, it is right that the president has sought to task a single individual to coordinate its response," Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said in a statement. "But I have to ask why the president didn’t pick an individual with a noteworthy infectious disease or public health background?"
Senate Republicans also disapproved of the president’s choice.
“Ebola is a health crisis. Yet the President has appointed as his new Ebola ‘czar’ a partisan loyalist whose expertise is politics—not health,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala).
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), said he would have preferred a cabinet member “accountable to Congress” lead the effort, according to his office.
“This is a public health crisis, and the answer isn’t another White House political operative,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said in a statement.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest dismissed the criticism as nothing more than politics when he was told about the Republican reaction at his briefing Friday.
"That's a shocking development there,” he said. “"Three weeks before an Election Day, and Republicans are seeking to score political points. Stop the presses!"
This story was posted at 12:24 p.m. and updated at 5 p.m.