Perry cuts short Europe trip amid Ebola scare

Texas Gov. Rick Perry says he's tracking the response to Ebola during his European trip.

Story highlights

  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry is returning Thursday from a European trade mission.
  • He'd planned to be there through Sunday.
  • Perry's return comes as Dallas deals with a second health care worker diagnosed with Ebola.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is cutting short an economic development trip through Europe to return home as officials in his state work to stop the spread of Ebola.
He'd originally been scheduled to return Sunday, but Perry spokesman Felix Browne told CNN the three-term Republican governor will now fly back on Thursday.
His decision to cut short an economic development-focused trip through England, Germany, Poland and Ukraine comes after President Barack Obama called off plans for a fundraising trip to New Jersey and Connecticut on Wednesday when a second Dallas health care worker was diagnosed with Ebola.
Perry had defended his decision to leave this week for Europe, saying in a statement Wednesday that he's been in close contact with state and federal officials about the Ebola response.
He said he had spoken with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell "to ensure state and federal management of this issue is tightly coordinated."
He also said he speaks daily with Dr. Brett Giroir, who heads an infectious disease task force that Perry formed earlier this month, and Dr. David Lakey, the commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services. Those two are helming the state's efforts.
"This is the first time that our nation has had to deal with a threat such as this. Everyone working on this challenge -- from the medical professionals at the bedside to the public health officials addressing containment of the infection -- is working to end the threat posed by this disease," Perry said.
"These individuals are keeping the health and safety of Texans and the needs of the patients as their most critical tasks," he said. "Every relevant agency at the local, state and national levels is working to support these individuals."
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His trip -- just months from the end of Perry's 12-year tenure in the governor's office -- drew criticism from Texas Democrats who called his absence while Dallas health care workers are treated for Ebola poor leadership.
It also put Perry at risk of missing an opportunity to demonstrate his executive capabilities ahead of a widely-expected 2016 campaign for the GOP presidential nomination.
"I have great faith that we will succeed in this important mission; once we have put it behind us we will be the stronger for it and more prepared to meet the kinds of challenges that we as Americans are uniquely prepared to face," Perry said.