Marco Rubio to CNN: Quarantined nurse is a 'hero'

Sen. Rubio: Quarantined nurse 'a hero'
Sen. Rubio: Quarantined nurse 'a hero'

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Sen. Rubio: Quarantined nurse 'a hero' 02:41

Story highlights

  • Sen. Marco Rubio praised the nurse who was quarantined in New Jersey for 65 hours
  • As oppose to a travel ban, Rubio says he supports stopping visas to Ebola hot zones
  • Rubio was campaigning in Iowa for GOP Senate hopeful Joni Ernst
Florida Republican Senator and possible presidential hopeful Marco Rubio told CNN he believes that the nurse who was quarantined in New Jersey is a "hero."
In an interview in Williamsburg, Iowa, Rubio said Kaci Hickox is "someone that went abroad and was willing to literally put her life on the line in the service of her fellow man."
Hickox is in a public spat with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie over her 65-hour mandatory quarantine after returning from West Africa, which she argues was unnecessary.
There is a dispute between state officials and Hickox about whether she was showing symptoms that required quarantine.
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Rubio, a potential rival of Christie's for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, was careful not to criticize the New Jersey Governor's actions, saying he does not know all the details.
"I can only say that at the end of the day if in fact she was showing symptoms, I know there was some dispute about whether or not those symptoms were real, but the fact that she was showing symptoms there is a public health need to address that and protect the general population," Rubio said.
Several leading Republicans and GOP candidates have also called for a travel ban from West Africa to fight the spread of Ebola to the United States.
Rubio said he doesn't think that would be effective, and instead will introduce legislation when the Senate returns to work next month to stop new visas from being issued for people traveling from countries where the Ebola epidemic is severe.
"We should not be issuing new visas to citizens of those counties until such time as Ebola in those nations have been brought under control," Rubio said.
Still, Rubio is taking a more cautious approach than other politicians when it comes to balancing public fear and scientific reality of the disease.
"I think its important to be aware about it and act urgently to address it, I don't think we should panic about it, I don't think we can solve any problem through panic," Rubio said.
"We're honored by the fact that so many Americans are willing to travel there and help assist in this effort because the most effective way to deal with Ebola is to stop it at its source there in west Africa," he said.
Rubio spent the day campaigning with Senate GOP hopeful Joni Ernst, who is in a neck and neck race with Democrat Bruce Braley.
Republicans are counting on picking up this vacant Democratic seat to help take control of the Senate in next Tuesday's election.