The following dispatch comes from our AJC colleague Nicholas Fouriezos:
Plenty of people have already grilled Gov. Nathan Deal over his “water kills the Ebola virus” comment during a recent campaign stop. On Wednesday, his Libertarian opponent Andrew Hunt joined the fray with some choice words of his own.
“How can we have such an idiot running our state?” Hunt told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This is a very serious issue and we can’t have our leaders misquoting information to the general population.”
When pressed on how Deal should address the Ebola problem, Hunt said officials should check sewage water to make sure it wasn’t contaminated while two sick patients were treated at Emory University Hospital in August. (A third arrived last night.)
Hunt also said the state should consider health screenings at airport terminals, before doubling down on his previous words.
“[Deal] is not intelligent enough to make statements in this area. He doesn’t have the background or sense to make statements in this area,” Hunt said. “People who aren’t able to speak properly or get proper advice should just not say anything.”
Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said the governor was taking steps to make sure the state was prepared for any infections that might crop up.
“Andrew Hunt’s offensive comments show he lacks the temperament we need in a governor,” Robinson said in a statement over email. “They draw a sharp contrast with the thoughtful, respectful leadership that Gov. Deal brings to the office. This flash of temper and angry language gives credence to his ex-wife’s sworn statements about his volatile behavior.”
As for that last bit: While going through divorce proceedings in 2005, Hunt’s then-wife accused him of assaulting her, though the estranged couple agreed to drop the charge later.
Taking his message to Facebook, Hunt asked rhetorically whether “an attorney like Deal or (Democrat Jason) Carter” would be better at solving major issues than a nanotechnologist and businessman like himself. Hunt holds a Ph.D. from Georgia Tech, but in materials science and engineering – not biology or medicine.
He is also the founder and former CEO of nGimat, a multi-million dollar nanotechnology company.
The outside hopeful has routinely polled between 3 and 7 percent, though his draw has diminished in recent polls as Election Day draws near. If Hunt does pull a significant portion of the vote, he could deprive either Deal or Carter of the 50-percent mark required to avoid a costly run-off.
An additional portion of the response from Deal’s camp is included below:
Gov. Deal requested an Ebola virus briefing from health officials and emergency responders and has taken several other steps to ensure we are prepared for potential infections at the state level. This includes sending instructions to hospitals and doctors, providing “what to do” cards to first responders and EMTs, and alerting hospitals and communities with large populations from West Africa who may have come into contact with a relative traveling in that area.
Gov. Deal was asked by media about the briefing he received on Ebola, and he repeated information given to him by a health care professional in that briefing. Washing your hands is not a cure-all, certainly, but it’s an important part of prevention. Gov. Deal is leading and getting his state ready.