Hagan hits Obama on VA ahead of NC visit

Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) said President Obama has not done enough to reform the Veterans Affairs Department in a statement released Friday evening, shortly after the president announced a trip to North Carolina next week. 

Hagan signaled she would be at the American Legion's National Convention in Charlotte next Tuesday, where the president will speak, to voice her concerns. 

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"I will be there to discuss some of the steps I want to see taken in Washington to uphold the commitment our government has made to North Carolina’s veterans," she said.

Hagan, a member of the Armed Services Committee, is locked in a tight race reelection race with North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis. In January, Hagan skipped an economic speech President Obama gave in the state so she could attend to Senate business. 

The administration has been roiled by the VA scandal over long wait times that led to delayed patient care, and over a massive benefits backlog for veterans filing disability claims. 

The administration appointed Robert McDonald to head the department after Eric Shinseki resigned amid the scandal in May. Obama also signed a $16.3 billion overhaul passed by Congress to address some of the problems. Hagan, however, said Obama has not yet won back veterans’ trust. 

"The Obama Administration has not yet done enough to earn the lasting trust of our veterans and implement real and permanent reforms at the VA," she said. "I hope to hear the President address these challenges."

The Tillis campaign said Hagan is only deflecting criticism away from herself. 

“Kay Hagan is refusing to take any responsibility for breaking her promises to veterans, instead pointing blame at the Obama administration to distract from her own failures," Tillis's campaign said in a statement. 

A recent poll showed a third of those voting in North Carolina saw their vote for Congress as a vote against Obama. Another third said their vote in November would be one for Obama, while the same amount said the president would not be a factor. 

While Obama's approval rating is at 45 percent in the state, Hagan's is even lower at 41 percent. Obama won North Carolina in 2008 but lost it to Mitt Romney in the 2012 election. 

—Updated 11:25 a.m.

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