May 21st, 2014
03:41 PM ET
9 years ago

Aiken: 'Buck has to stop' with Obama on VA

(CNN) - American Idol star turned congressional nominee Clay Aiken called the Department of Veterans Affairs "unwieldy," and said President Barack Obama is ultimately responsible for holding the VA accountable.

Asked by CNN's Brooke Baldwin on Wednesday whether the President should take a more hands-on approach to dealing the growing controversy, Aiken said, "I certainly think the President is responsible for it at the end of the day."

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"He is the commander in chief of the military. He is the executive, so the buck has to stop with him," he said.

Aiken's comments come on the heels of Obama's first public statement Wednesday on the flare up over fraudulent record-keeping that covered up excessive and sometimes deadly waiting times for veterans at some VA facilities.

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Aiken noted that his brother is a veteran and acknowledged the large military population in his North Carolina district.

"I think people should all be very frustrated with the disorganization, to put it lightly, of the VA. The VA is an unwieldy organization, and I think that some of the mismanagement it's had over the past several years has started showing itself," he said.

The number of VA facilities under investigation has expanded to 26, the agency's Office of Inspector General said Tuesday. Aiken said he wouldn't be surprised if the issues were even more wide-spread.

Aiken's rise to Democratic nominee, challenging two-term Rep. Renee Ellmers in North Carolina's 2nd Congressional District, has been anything but conventional.

Last week, Aiken's primary opponent died on that same day he was expected to concede the race. Aiken told CNN he was speechless when he heard the news. His campaign temporarily suspended activities.

Looking forward to November, Aiken is maintaining his optimism against long odds in a heavily Republican district, insisting that his constituents aren't focused on politics.

Despite his star power, the 2003 "American Idol" runner-up will face an uphill battle in the reliably conservative district, which is located in the central part of the state, against Ellmers.

Related: GOP establishment 1, tea party 0 after North Carolina Senate primary

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Filed under: 2014 • North Carolina • President Obama • Renee Ellmers • Veterans Affairs
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Silence DoGood

    I'm certain that Obama will fire, or cause to be fired, anyone who is responsible for the VA scandal. But it may take some time to determine who all of them are. That's just realistic.
    If Obama waits to investigate, haters will say "why doesn't he DO something"
    If he cans someone now, haters will say "he is just doing that to cover up something worse"

    May 21, 2014 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  2. GatorDude

    If a government agency doesn't have the resources to serve its customers, that is a problem. The government administrators simply have to do their best and let their superiors know that there is an issue. People should protest, write their congressmen, and demand that budgets be expanded and services be improved. That's public administration in a democracy. The government may be slow, but that can be fixed. That's just a matter of allocating resources and setting priorities.

    However, when government officials deliberately fake records to make their organizations look more efficient and effective than they actually are, that is a firing offense and possibly a criminal offense. If metrics are inflated, then there is no way to really know that there is a problem and direct the application of resources effectively.

    Heads should definitely roll.

    May 21, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  3. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Yeah, and the right wing congress always does so much for our veterans. They never go to war, send our kids and then look the other way when they come home maimed. Don't blame Obama. Blame the right wing garbage that sold us all down the river.

    May 21, 2014 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
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