America Rising Ad Knocks Hillary Clinton for Downplaying VA Scandal

America Rising released an ad Thursday that highlights comments by Hillary Clinton downplaying the extent of the Veterans Affairs scandal.

The ad, titled "Not Widespread?", contrasts news coverage of the scandal with Clinton’s claim that the scandal "has not been as widespread as it has been made out to be."

The ad ends with a heated rejoinder to Clinton’s comments by Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.).

"When she says that the problem isn’t as bad as it has been made out to be—no, it’s worse. She doesn’t understand veterans, she doesn’t understand what they need, and she is politicizing the issue. Shame on her," McCain said.

The VA scandal came to light last year when CNN reported that "at least 40 U.S. veterans" died waiting for health care at the VA hospital in Phoenix. Doctors at the hospital created a secret waiting list to conceal the fact that many veterans were waiting months to receive appointments at the hospital.

The scandal snowballed, implicating other VA hospitals and triggering multiple investigations. An internal VA investigation of 731 VA facilities found that 56,300 veterans waited at least 90 days to receive care, while an additional 46,400 never received an appointment. A White House investigation faulted "significant and chronic system failures" in the VA for excessive wait times.

Problems have persisted after a leadership shakeup at the Veterans Health Administration, with the number of veterans on wait lists increasing 50 percent in the last year, a figure the VA attributes to budget constraints and increased demand for services.

Clinton joins a cadre of politicians who have downplayed the extent of the VA scandal, a group that includes her political rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.). Their defense of the institution has a distinctly ideological bent, as many favor transitioning to a single-payer health care system that bears similarity to the VA model.

Transcript below:

REPORTER: It was a plan by top management at this veterans’ hospital in Phoenix, Arizona to hide as many as 1,600 veterans waiting many months just to get a doctors’ appointment

REPORTER: The VA responded today by launching a new investigation in Cheyenne

MIKA BRZEZINKSI: A new report suggests the Veterans Affairs scandal may be more widespread than first thought

LESTER HOLT: The scandal grows deeper, more stories are emerging about those who found themselves caught in the VA bureaucracy and faced potentially life-threatening delays in their treatment.

GUEST: These allegations started in Phoenix, then it was Fort Collins, then Austin, San Antonio, Cheyenne, St. Louis, and later today there will be another one.

RACHEL MADDOW: But in part because there has been real scandal.

HILARY CLINTON: There has been. But it has not been as widespread as it has been made out to be.