Hagan joins challenger calling for travel ban

Hagan joins challenger calling for travel ban

Sen. Kay HaganKay HaganGOP senator floats retiring over gridlock 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map The untold stories of the 2016 battle for the Senate MORE (D-N.C.) joined her Republican challenger Friday in calling on the Obama administration to temporarily prevent non-U.S. citizens traveling from three West Africa nations combating the deadly virus from entering the U.S. 

"Although stopping the spread of this virus overseas will require a large, coordinated effort with the international community, a temporary travel ban is a prudent step the President can take to protect the American people, and I believe he should do so immediately," Hagan said in a statement Friday, siding with Republican opponent North Carolina Speaker Thom Tillis.

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The remarks represent a shift in views on the topic for Hagan, a vulnerable Democrat locked in a tight reelection race against Tillis, who earlier this month became the first U.S. Senate candidate to call for travel restrictions against countries battling the deadly virus.

On Wednesday, Tillis said in a statement that it was "astonishing that Sen. Hagan has refused to call for a travel ban, instead waiting for direction from President Obama at the same time more Americans are being put at risk."

"That's not gonna help solve this problem. That's not gonna contain the epidemic that we see happening in Africa," she said in response, according to video captured by Time Warner Cable News. She had previously signaled that she was open to a travel ban.

"Sen Hagan said [a travel ban] wouldn't help. Now she agrees with me?" Tillis tweeted Friday following Hagan's announcement with a Vine of her previous remarks. 

The Republican National Committee quickly highlighted Hagan's shift, a spokesperson accused the senator of flip-flopping on the issue.

Hagan now joins 12 other senators, including Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who've expressed support for some form of an Ebola flight ban, according to a whip count that has been compiled by The Hill. 

Sixty-eight House members, including eight Democrats, have also called for the ban. 

The White House has pushed back against cutting off flights to Ebola-stricken countries in Africa, with President Obama reiterating Thursday night from the Oval Office that a "flat-out travel ban is not the best way to go."  

This post was updated at 4:17 p.m.