Clay Aiken, the American Idol runner-up and Democrat who is running for Congress in North Carolina, has not been paying attention to the wait-list scandal at the Veterans Administration even though Fort Bragg is in his district.
On Tuesday, NBC’s Savannah Guthrie also mentioned that Aiken’s brother has served two tours of duty in Iraq and assumed that Aiken was following the scandal in which at least 40 veterans died while waiting for medical care after being put on a secret wait list at a VA hospital in Phoenix, Arizona.
“I’m sure you’re following what’s happening with the scandal at the Veterans Administration, with the delays in treatments for vets,” Guthrie assumed. “Do you think Eric Shinseki, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, should resign?”
Aiken seemed like he was caught a bit off guard and said, “I don’t know, but I mean, I think we have a lot of people who are making decisions without being in the room.”
“I’m not going to be one of those folks who wasn’t in the hearings, hasn’t paid attention to those details, and wasn’t privy to that stuff in making decisions for that,” he said, deflecting the question, according to an America Rising transcript. “But I will say, we’ve gotta do a better job of funding the VA, we’ve gotta do a better job of organizing the VA. I think the VA should be possibly not in the healthcare business so much as in the veterans’ care business in taking care of the needs of veterans.”
After reportedly finding out about the scandal while watching television reports even though he had been briefed about the problems in the VA, President Barack Obama reportedly said he was “madder than hell” while Shinseki said he was “mad as hell.” The White House announced Tuesday that Rob Nabors, a White House deputy chief of staff, would visit the hospital in Arizona that reportedly had the secret wait lists in addition to possibly others. Other candidates for federal office, like Ret. Col. Rob Maness, a conservative candidate for Senate in Louisiana, has been paying attention, saying there should be criminal charges if anyone is found to have broken the law at the VA.