Obama puts off campaigning, focuses on aggressive Ebola response

Obama promises Ebola 'SWAT' teams
Obama promises Ebola 'SWAT' teams

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Obama promises Ebola 'SWAT' teams 03:02

Story highlights

  • Obama wants to see more aggressive approach
  • Obama convenes special Cabinet meeting regarding outbreak of Ebola.
  • Government ramps up response after a second Texas nurse was diagnosed with Ebola
  • New CDC "SWAT" teams will be dispatched to any hospital with an infected patient
President Barack Obama canceled a campaign trip at the last minute to stay in Washington and spearhead a more aggressive national response after Ebola infected two nurses and frightened Americans with the prospect that their health system is not equipped to handle a catastrophic medical event.
Obama said Wednesday that monitoring of Ebola must be done in a "much more aggressive way." He continued, according to the pool report, to say that as soon as someone is diagnosed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must have a rapid response team immediately on site. The White House is taking this very seriously at the highest levels.
The President made the comments after a special meeting of his Cabinet that was convened to address Ebola and came as one of the infected nurses in Texas was transported to special hospital facilities in Georgia for care.
Obama said the CDC would deploy new SWAT teams within 24 hours to any hospital with an infected patient. He also promised that the federal government would review contacts made by infected people before they showed symptoms.
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But he urged calm, repeating that Ebola is not easily spread if someone is not showing symptoms.
"Here's what we know about Ebola. It's not like the flu. It's not airborne," the President said, adding that he had met, hugged and even kissed health care workers at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta who had treated Ebola patients.
The White House announced Wednesday that it was postponing Obama's campaign trip -- which included stops in Connecticut and New Jersey -- in order for the president to meet with "Cabinet agencies coordinating the government's response to the Ebola outbreak."
With the potency of his last years in office on the line, Obama was expected to cautiously step back on to the campaign trail Wednesday, rallying Democrats in dyed-blue Connecticut working to keep the governor there in office.
But the President still will continue to mostly avoid campaigning in Senate contests, sticking to the gubernatorial campaign trail in three visits over the next week and four more planned trips in the final week of the 2014 season. Only one of those trips -- in Michigan -- is set to involve Democrat's Senate nominee.
Vulnerable candidates in places such as Kentucky, North Carolina, Arkansas and Louisiana have been loathe to invite Obama to rally for them in their own states, spooked by his low approval ratings and the unpopular policy initiatives they helped move through Congress.
That's left Obama relegated to the role of chief fund-raiser, jetting to wealthy enclaves across the country to try and keep donors encouraged enough about Democrats' chances to keep writing checks. It's been a tough sell recently, with Republicans almost certain to retain control of the U.S. House and models giving the GOP an edge to take the Senate.
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In Connecticut, where Obama had been scheduled to speak Wednesday, Gov. Dannel Malloy is tied with Republican rival Tom Foley, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Ireland from 2006-2009. A CBS/New York Times poll had both men at 41% among likely voters in a survey taken the last week of September.
A White House official had said earlier Obama would also campaign with two Democratic gubernatorial candidates on Sunday: Anthony Brown in Maryland and Pat Quinn in Illinois. Both have slight edges over their Republican rivals, and will depend on high turnout among African-Americans, one group with which Obama still has sway.
Connecticut and Maryland are both deep blue, swinging in Obama's direction by wide margins in both 2008 and 2012. In Connecticut, voters have been more willing to send Republicans to the State House -- when Malloy took office in 2011 he succeeded two GOP governors.
And Obama will use the final week of the campaign season crisscrossing the country to boost gubernatorial candidates in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Maine and Michigan.
In states with tight Senate races that are either Republican-leaning or true battlegrounds, Democrats have gone to sometimes extreme lengths to avoid Obama's drag. Alison Lundergan Grimes, challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, wouldn't even say whether she voted for Obama in the last election.
The White House, while defending Obama's economic record, says issues such as Ebola and combating ISIS have occupied the bulk of his time. But they say he'll do what he can for Democrats ahead of November 4.
"The President obviously has got a few things on his plate these days, but (he) is looking forward to the opportunity to campaign with other candidates in advance of the midterms," press secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday.