Bob Dole: VA a 'disaster'

 

Veteran, one-time presidential candidate and former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole told USA Today that the Department of Veterans Affairs is a "disaster" in need of a major shake-up.

Dole, however, avoided demanding the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki as other Republicans have, saying he should remain until the White House completes its internal probe of the matter.

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"He should stay until the While House gets this investigative report that they're doing, until we get the facts, and you see what you can lay at his feet and what his response has been," Dole said in the interview published Friday. "If the facts reveal that he neglected his duties, then he should go."

Dole did, however, find fault with President Obama's handling of the matter.

"I don't want to be critical of the president, but he waited 23 days before he responded, and I think he should have done it sooner," Dole said.

Shinseki's turmoil is particularly agonizing for Dole. The former Kansas senator introduced Shinseki at his confirmation hearings in 2009, where he praised the retired general as a "true American hero."

Dole, himself severely wounded in World War II, has had extensive involvement with veteran issues, chairing a commission under President George W. Bush that addressed the care received by wounded veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dole also had some criticism for Tea Party members of the Republican caucus in Congress in Friday's interview.

"Some of them are so far right they're going to fall out of the Capitol," Dole joked. "I don't know what they contribute if they're against everything."