David Jolly doubles down on Hillary Clinton over VA health service

David Jolly

Doubling down on his previous critical remarks, Pinellas County GOP U.S. Rep. and 2016 U.S. Senate hopeful David Jolly now demands that Hillary Clinton formally retract her recent comments on the quality of care at Veterans Affairs facilities.

While appearing on “The Rachel Maddow Show” Oct. 23, Clinton said she didn’t understand why there was a problem with the VA serving veterans health care needs.

“I don’t understand why we have such a problem, because there have been a number of surveys of veterans. And overall, veterans who do get treated are satisfied with their treatment,” Clinton said. “Now, nobody would believe that from the coverage that you see, and the constant berating of the VA that comes from the Republicans, in part in pursuit of this ideological agenda that they have.”

When Maddow followed up by saying there had been a real scandal there, Clinton responded, “There has been. But it’s not been as widespread as it has been made out to be.”

Jolly criticized those comments last week. But after The Washington Post’s Fact Checker  awarded Clinton’s comments worthy of two “Pinocchio’s,” and calling them “misleading,” Jolly pounced.

“Mrs. Clinton chose to manipulate the facts just like some VA employees chose to manipulate wait times,” Jolly said in a prepared statement. “Our men and women in uniform deserve a lot better from those who seek to be our next Commander in Chief.”

In July, Jolly announced his “Veterans Health Care Freedom Act,” (H.R. 3183), legislation which aims to provide veterans with health care options outside of existing VA center. It’s a way to deal with the long wait times and substandard conditions at VA centers that made national news in 2014.

Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon did not back down in a statement, telling the Post that, “At this point, Republicans are trying to exploit the scandal to try to score partisan points and push an ideological agenda to privatize the VA. Hillary Clinton has said repeatedly that the systemic problem of excessive wait times at the VA is an outrage, but she refuses to believe the VA is beyond fixing. Republicans are trying to suggest the only solution to the VA’s problems is to privatize it, but Hillary Clinton will not apologize for insisting on doing the hard work to reform the VA, rather than ending it altogether.”

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.


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