A reporter on Monday asked Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) whether President Barack Obama was doing enough to contain the spread of Ebola. It, um, did not go well.
"Um, I would say that it's hard to know because I haven't heard the latest briefing on that, but my impression is that we have people over there both from CDC and other medical type people and even some engineers who try to build medical facilities, that's what we need over there," Pryor told NBC's Kasie Hunt after a rally at the University of Central Arkansas.
Asked again whether he felt the Obama administration's response was aggressive enough, Pryor demurred.
"Um, again, I have to see the latest numbers," he said after a long pause.
About 7,500 cases of the deadly disease have been reported, nearly all in West Africa, with the death toll currently topping 3,400. After officials diagnosed a man who recently traveled from Liberia to Dallas with Ebola, some Republicans have called for the imposition of a flight ban, and even for the appointment of a czar to manage the administration's response.
Pryor's bungled response follows an ad his campaign ran earlier this summer attacking his opponent, Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), for voting to "cut billions from our nation's medical disaster and emergency programs" and not doing enough to combat global pandemics.
Cotton currently has a slight edge over Pryor in the heated race, 45.1 percent to 43 percent, according to the HuffPost Pollster polling average.
UPDATE: A spokesman for Cotton accused Pryor of failing to take Ebola "seriously."
"Tom Cotton has taken a serious, measured response to the Ebola crisis, joining Arkansas's other three Congressmen last week in sending a letter to President Obama that calls for commonsense measures to step up our country's preparedness against the Ebola outbreak. Serious times demand serious leaders, and that's not what Arkansans are getting from Senator Pryor," Cotton spokesman David Ray said in a Tuesday press release.
UPDATE II: In a statement forwarded by his campaign on Tuesday, Pryor urged the administration to do "everything possible" to prevent an Ebola outbreak in the United States.
I’ve given better answers to tougher questions, but the fact is we’ve got to do everything possible to prevent an outbreak here at home. That starts with containing the disease’s spread in Western Africa, and our military and airport screening efforts are the right thing to do. What’s not right, however, is to vote against adequate funding for the Center for Disease Control, which Congressman Cotton has done.