White House mocks criticism of Ebola czar

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The White House dismissed Republican criticism of the selection of longtime Democratic aide Ron Klain to head the federal Ebola response, suggesting the GOP was “seeking to score political points” before Election Day.

“That’s a shocking development there,” press secretary Josh Earnest said when told Republican lawmakers had criticized the selection of Klain because he does not have a public health background.

“Three weeks before an Election Day, and Republicans are seeking to score political points,” Earnest said. “Stop the presses!”

{mosads}Many Republican lawmakers have argued that Klain is ill-qualified for the position of Ebola czar. He served as chief of staff to Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden, and ran debate prep for President Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign.

“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,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman 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?”

But Earnest praised Klain’s “extensive management experience” in and outside the government, and his “strong relationships with members of Congress and obviously strong relationships with those of us who worked with him here at the White House.”

“What we’re looking for here is an implementation expert,” Earnest said.

Earnest said Klain was the president’s first choice for the job and bringing him on meant having “someone who can spend 100 percent of their time” on the Ebola response.

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