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Political Notebook: Ebola becomes campaign issue

With just over two weeks until election day, the spread of the deadly Ebola virus is becoming a hot campaign issue.

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With just more than two weeks until election day, the spread of the deadly Ebola virus is becoming a hot campaign issue.

Last week, 1st District Republican candidate Jim Hagedorn issued a press release attacking DFL Congressman Tim Walz for not doing enough to stop the spread of Ebola. Specifically, Hagedorn is calling for a ban on flights from the three West African nations where Ebola is being fought — Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

"It's time to elect leaders who will make national security and the safety of the American people the highest priority. At a minimum, the U.S. should immediately ban travel from West African Ebola nations," Hagedorn said.

He went on to criticize Walz and President Obama for not to doing enough to secure the nation's borders to prevent the spread of Ebola.

"The reckless Obama-Walz policies of open borders, suspended deportations and lax visa/passport standards have left America and Americans vulnerable to Islamic terrorism, Ebola and serious crime," Hagedorn said.

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On Friday, Walz sent a letter to President Obama urging him to take aggressive action to fight Ebola. He stopped short of calling for a full travel ban, noting in his letter that "infection experts agree, at least at this time, that a complete travel ban could make the situation worse."

But he did ask Obama to consider implementing a targeted travel ban for those with passports from the West African nations impacted by Ebola, while making sure aid workers can continue to fly freely.

The Mankato Democrat also asks the president to begin Ebola screening at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport due to the region's large Liberian community. He also called on the federal government to do more to help health care professionals get the equipment and training they need to treat Ebola as well as making sure individuals who have been exposed to the virus are quarantined.

"It is clear that serious, unacceptable errors were made in the initial treatment of the index patient in Dallas that allowed the virus to spread to two health care workers who were treating the patient. These errors must never happen again," Walz wrote.

The congressman ended his letter stating he's willing to return to Washington, D.C. if congressional action is needed to beef up international aid to stop the spread of Ebola in Africa adding, "I realize the only true way to end the threat to Americans is by stopping the outbreak in Africa."

SOS candidate talks business, not elections

Secretary of State candidate Bob Helland is busy talking about businesses — not elections — when he's on the campaign trail. The Independence Party candidate said few people realize that the majority of the work done by the Minnesota Secretary of State's office has to do with business services.

"We're lagging in new business development. We are lagging in private-sector job creation, and people need to understand the Secretary of State is a central part, or at least initial part, of creating a business in Minnesota," he said in an interview.

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Helland is running against DFL candidate Steve Simona and Republican Dan Severson. If elected, the 29-year-old would be the youngest elected statewide executive in the nation. He is also touting his background in software development and technology work for the state.

"When everyone in the race is talking about we need a nonpartisan who is really good at technology, I don't see how my opponents will compete with me," he said.

Related Topics: JIM HAGEDORN
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