Hawaii Democrat backs travel ban, denounces politicization of the issue

It’s becoming a groundswell.

Relatively embattled Democrats facing the voters this fall have been abandoning the president’s position on a limited travel ban on Ebola-affected regions of West Africa in droves.

Last week, Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Kay Hagan (D-NC) expressed some support a limited travel ban. On Monday, they were joined by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), who had said just five days ago that a ban “doesn’t make sense.” But these Democrats are key to the Democrats retaining control of the U.S. Senate on November 4, and a cynic would excuse them for abandoning a stance that is unpopular with two-thirds of the public.

Today, however, they were joined by another Democrat who is in no danger of being ousted by angry Republican voters in November. On Monday, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) joined the chorus of those saying that a limited travel ban was necessary in order to prevent the further spread of Ebola into the United States.

Gabbard told CNN’s Jake Tapper that the president’s arguments against a travel ban, that those seeking to get around it would fail to disclose that they had been in contact with an Ebola patient, was fallacious; the “index patient” himself, Thomas Eric Duncan, failed to reveal that he had been in close proximity to Ebola sufferers while on his trip to Africa.

Moreover, Gabbard said, the argument that people would travel to third-party nations to avoid restrictions on Sierra Leone, Guiana, and Liberia would be undone by those handy things called passports.

But it was what seemed like Gabbard’s parting shot at those who oppose a travel ban, including the president, which raised the most eyebrows.

“Far too many people are politicizing an issue that is not political at all,” Gabbard said. “We actually have a responsibly, as elected leaders, to do what’s right for the people – to transcend the politics of the season – and do actually do the right thing to make that change and prevent that outbreak from happening here.”

Well, that’s refreshing. One thing you cannot say about Gabbard here is that she is engaging in any sort of pandering to a solidly Democratic district in which 80 percent of voters backed her in 2012. Maybe, just maybe, her concerns about Ebola spreading are genuine and have nothing to do with the coming midterms…

Whatever her motivations, this development is sure to keep the debate over a travel ban in the news.