New York Republican congressional candidate and state Sen. Lee Zeldin says the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's use of the word "coward" to describe his position on Rep. Paul Ryan's budget is "a new low" against an Iraq war veteran.
"I really don't take too kindly to being called a coward," Zeldin told J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV.
"It's just not an appropriate name to be calling me . . . They obviously know that the seat is in trouble, and this is a new low," he said Monday.
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The reason the former Army veteran who served in Iraq in the 82nd Airborne Division says it's a problem is that it could discourage other veterans who may be considering a run for office.
"They should be much more proactive in addressing this issue because I think of other veteran candidates who are stepping up, who are thinking about stepping up, and we should actually be encouraging more people to run for office who have served," Zeldin said.
"Forty years ago, three-quarters of Congress were made up of military veterans, and now that number's about one in five, and it's important to send a strong message that we're actually encouraging veterans to step forward and serve," he added.
The DCCC said that "Zeldin is either woefully uninformed, willfully ignorant or a coward" because he had not come to a conclusion about how he would vote on Ryan's budget plan, The Daily Caller
The group also sent a tweet depicting the New York Republican as the cowardly lion from "The Wizard of Oz."
The original post and tweet by the Democratic group have been removed.
The National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee has called on the DCCC to apologize for the "classless insult."
The Iraq veteran also said he thinks "it's important" that Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resign in light of the recent scandal in which veterans have allegedly died while waiting to see doctors at a VA hospital in Phoenix and others across the country while "secret wait lists" were kept.
"He has been there for several years, there's obviously a leadership failure within the VA," Zeldin said.
The New York Republican said it's important "not just for Gen. Shinseki to step aside, but also for the people who are giving him some horrific advice, crafting a vision for the future of the VA — it's just we're going in the wrong direction as far as the VA goes."
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