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Steve Scalise says Republicans worked with Obama on Ebola. Let’s go to the tape.

Some of the same Republicans who called for a bipartisan response to the coronavirus in 2020 contributed to partisan rhetoric around the Ebola response in 2014. (Video: JM Rieger/The Washington Post)
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Speaking about the coronavirus outbreak Wednesday, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) made another assertion about how Republicans treated President Barack Obama while he was in office.

“Anybody that’s playing partisan games with this, especially while the president’s in a foreign country, should be ashamed of themselves,” Scalise said.

“We work together, like we’ve done when we were in the majority with President Obama,” Scalise continued, “to make sure, whether it was Ebola or any other disease, that we were working with the president to combat it, not to try to find a way to divide the country, but by finding a way to work together.”

That’s not exactly how things went during the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak. Both Republicans and Democrats exploited the outbreak for political gain. Many Republicans were quick to accuse the Obama administration of incompetence and failing to “protect” America, examples of which you can watch in the video above. Some politicians of both parties went even further, using the Ebola outbreak in their 2014 campaign ads.

Ultimately, the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa resulted in 11 confirmed cases and two deaths in the United States. Obama’s response included deploying nearly 3,000 service members to West Africa.

Here’s a sampling of what Republican senators and Senate candidates said about the outbreak to contrast themselves with their opponents in 2014.

Then-Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said Obama was “not protecting our country and our families from Ebola,” suggesting the administration was not doing enough to combat the disease.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) called Obama’s Ebola response “fundamentally unserious” for refusing to ban travel from nations battling Ebola (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this would make it harder, not easier, to contain and combat the outbreak).

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said “political correctness” was hindering the U.S. response to Ebola and that Obama was putting U.S. troops at risk by sending them to countries battling Ebola.

“We have ISIS. We have Ebola. We have to secure the border,” Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said at the time, even though there was no evidence or eventual Ebola cases linked to the southern border.

Then-Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst accused Obama of “failed leadership” on Ebola.

“Gosh, can you imagine if Mitt [Romney] was the president right now?” former senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.) said. ” … I guarantee you we would not be worrying about Ebola right now.”

Scalise himself accused the Obama administration of incompetence in its Ebola response.

“This president in general, all across his agencies, has not shown the ability to run a competent administration,” Scalise said, one day before Obama appointed Ronald A. Klain as Ebola czar.

Some of these same Republicans have since praised the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus, despite new reporting of a faulty government-created test that has delayed monitoring of the disease.

In 2014, Donald Trump slammed Obama’s appointment of Klain, tweeting, “Obama just appointed an Ebola Czar with zero experience in the medical area and zero experience in infectious disease control. A TOTAL JOKE!”

On Wednesday, Trump appointed Vice President Pence to lead the coronavirus response, someone with no medical experience.