Donald Trump is making a major appeal to veterans by promising to overhaul the
Department of Veterans Affairs
In a Monday speech in Virginia, the Republican presidential candidate mostly stuck to the script, rattling off a number of policy proposals aimed at reforming the VA, which he characterised as “corrupt” and wasteful.
“Fixing this corruption will be one of my many and highest priorities, and believe me, it will happen, I’m very good at things like that,” Trump said.
The Manhattan businessman added: “And that begins with a promise: Every veteran will get timely access to top quality medical care.”
Though Trump did not discuss the cost of his plan, the real-estate mogul touted his proposal allowing veterans to seek government subsidized private healthcare, and his plan to create a private White House hotline for complaining about the VA. He promised if there was a valid complaint, he would “pick up the phone and fix it myself, if I have to.”
But while much of Tuesday’s speech was focused on his VA plan, Trump took several detours to take jabs at Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton.
Though he did not specifically criticise Clinton’s plan to reform the VA, Trump slammed Clinton’s use of several private email servers while serving as secretary of state, calling Clinton a “liar” and “grossly incompetent.”
“She actually thinks the Veterans Health Administration is well run. That’s because she’s been part of this rigged system for a long time,” Trump said.
He added shortly after: “She’s incompetent and she doesn’t have what it takes. Hillary Clinton is the secretary of the status quo. Wherever Hillary Clinton goes, corruption and scandal follow. Just look at her life,” Trump said.
For its part, Clinton’s campaign attempted to cast doubt over Trump’s support for veterans shortly before the real-estate magnate’s speech.
During a press call on Monday, Arizona’s Rep. Ruben Gallego, an Iraq War veteran, reminded reporters of Trump’s comments about Sen. John McCain’s war record, particularly Trump’s claim that he “likes veterans that aren’t captured.”
“Trump has said so many things over the years that are just so utterly insulting to the men and women of our country,” Gallego said.
He added: “What he said about my fellow delegate member John McCain was just absolutely shameful. For Donald Trump to question John McCain, who really is a true war hero, and to say that he prefers people who weren’t capture, is in essence insulting prisoners of war. It really blows my mind how he could be legitimate to become president of the United States.”
“Trump has zero concept of the VA and VA issues. When you can’t explain if you’re for or against the GI bill that really has saved millions of veterans lives, you’re not going to be able to fully understand and grasp what has to happen to make the VA a better healthcare system for veterans,” Gallego said.
Trump remains popular with many veterans, but some signs show he’s not as strong as past nominees. A recent Morning Consult public opinion survey showed Trump with a 9-point lead over Clinton among veterans and family members of veterans.
Still, that’s a far cry from the support that former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had over President Barack Obama during the 2012 race. A poll taken in May 2012 showed Romney with a 24% lead over the president. Veterans are a sizeable part of the US population, accounting for about 7% of adults.
NOW WATCH: Donald Trump defends his controversial tweet featuring the Star of David — they ‘should have left it up’
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.