Haley Barbour: GOP attacks on Ebola, ISIS are ‘fair game’

Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) is shrugging off claims that the GOP has turned Ebola and Middle East terror threats into political weapons in the midterm elections, calling both issues “fair game” on the campaign trail.

In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Barbour denied that the GOP has played up the politics of fear. He said both Ebola and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are “issues that the administration didn’t take seriously at all,” leaving an opening for GOP criticism.


Barbour, a two-term governor who is now an influential voice within the Republican Party, told CNN’s Carol Costello that the government’s failure to promptly act has fueled widespread fear about terror acts and a wider outbreak of the disease in the United States.

“Now we’ve got a real problem. We’re really in the rut on both these issues,” he said. “It is absolutely fair game to criticize the policies and the results of those policies.”

Both Ebola and the threat of ISIS has exploded in the weeks ahead of the elections. Ebola has been mentioned 1,218 times in TV ads since Aug. 22, with 734 mentions between Oct. 21 and Oct. 25, according to ad-tracking firm Kantar Media CMAG.

On Ebola, Barbour said the government’s uncoordinated response has fueled public fear that the virus “is going to run wild in the United States,” even as the Obama administration has started to take steps to fix its response.

The former governor also slammed the federal three-week quarantine policy for Ebola, which applies to members of the U.S. military stationed in West Africa.

Barbour added candidates are justified in focusing on Ebola and ISIS because both are among voters’ top concerns this fall.

“Every candidate should be talking about in his campaign: What is on the minds of the families when they sit around the kitchen table?” he said.