Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainDole to lie in state in Capitol Rotunda Bob Dole: A great leader of the 'Greatest Generation' The bully who pulls the levers of Trump's mind never learns MORE (R-Ariz.) says Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Overnight Defense & National Security — Lawmakers clinch deal on defense bill White House 'strongly opposes' Senate resolution to stop Saudi arms sale MORE (I-Vt.) has a better track record when it comes to caring for veterans than Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBen Affleck: Republicans 'want to dodge the consequences for their actions' through gerrymandering Republican Ohio Senate candidate slams JD Vance over previous Trump comments Budowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema MORE.
McCain said the Vermont senator, who is competing with Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination next year, worked hard for veterans in his role as chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
“The fact is we were able to come together and pass legislation that was nearly unanimous in both the House and the Senate, so he does have a record of advocacy for our veterans,” he said in response to a question about the candidates' positions on veterans' issues during a press call on Wednesday. “To my knowledge, I know of no activity, legislative or otherwise, that Hillary Clinton was engaged in during her time as a United States senator,” he added.
McCain’s comments follow the former secretary of State's statement that lengthy delays for patients seeking treatment at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals are not a “widespread” problem.
McCain, who was a Vietnam prisoner of war, said the comments call into question Clinton’s qualifications to serve as commander in chief.
“I would say that if Hillary Clinton really believes the comments that she made, I don’t see how any veteran who cares about their fellow veterans could possibly have any good things, nor could support her quest for being commander in chief,” he said.
“[The] commander in chief not only sends the young men and women into conflicts, but [the] commander in chief has an obligation, as Abraham Lincoln so eloquently stated, about our care for the widows and the wounded,” he added.
“So, I would say that a veteran looking at her comments would question her qualifications to be commander in chief.”
Clinton said Friday on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” that protracted wait times at veterans hospitals have not been “as widespread as it has been made out to be.”
She also blamed Republicans for pursuing an “ideological agenda” to make VA hospitals “fail.”
McCain called on Clinton to apologize for her comments in a statement on Monday, accusing her of trying to “downplay” the scandal.
Clinton backtracked from her comments on Monday, saying she is “outraged” by the delays at veterans’ clinics.
An inspector general report last year found that as many as 40 veterans died while waiting for care at a facility in Phoenix. The average wait time for an appointment was 115 days, but official data claimed that the average wait was only 24 days.
A subsequent report described the problem at VA hospitals around the nation as “systemic.”