TOMS RIVER – Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Hugin made an appearance at a town hall event Thursday night with a local VFW post, focusing on veterans issues.

On Thursday night, U.S. Senate hopeful Bob Hugin answered questions from both the VFW organizers of the event and from attendees in the audience after making introductory remarks. 

The Republican senate challenger denounced partisan gridlock in Washington when asked for his take on the 2013 budget sequester that resulted in sharp budget cuts as a result an impasse on budget negotiations.

“They use sequestration as a tool because they cant work together and deal with the problems,” Hugin said in response to a question from the VFW. “To hold the military hostage so that other people can get what they want on the other side of the table is just wrong.”

Hugin answers questions from VFW members

On VA funding, Hugin declared “Our healthcare system including the VA needs to be transformed.” He blamed political partisanship for the lack of progress on meaningful VA reform, and said that Democrats and Republican agree on “80%” of what needs to be done to reform veterans healthcare, but because neither side can get 100% of what they want, progress has stalled. “It’s crazy,” the GOP U.S. Senate hopeful quipped.

A female veteran also told Hugin that services being received by women are inadequate, citing a lack of gender specific services lacking at the VA, with patients from the Ocean County area often being referred to outside specialists and being forced to travel as far as East Orange.

Also appearing at Hugin’s event was Congressman Tom MacArthur (R – 3rd District)

Congressman MacArthur addresses the veterans town hall.

He started off by speaking of his father’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease, stating that it was a “long, slow slipping away of things.” MacArthur said that even as his father’s mental state deteriorated, he still spoke fondly of his time in the army during the Korean War, where he served in the Signal Corps.

“But the thing he remembered until the very end, when he was starting to forget names, forgetting the names of myself and my sisters, he would still be talking about when he was in the army.”

While addressing the veterans, MacArthur couldn’t help but take a shot at his Democratic challenger, Andy Kim. “Now I’m not here tonight on my campaign, I’m here for Bob’s but I do have to say one word about my opponent in this race,” he said. 

“Hes been accused of stolen honor by trying to get people to think he was in the military. The images he projects. The words that he uses.”

He then pivoted to slamming Hugin’s opponent, incumbent U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D – Hudson). “Bob Hugin has more integrity in his little finger than Bob Menendez,” MacArthur said, before decrying New Jersey’s senior Democratic senator as a “corrupt politician” that only serves his own self interest.

“I’m running for the right reasons because our country deserves better, our state deserves better,” Hugin said at the event.

“We deserve a senator that our children, our grandchildren should see as a role model. Not somebody who is running to stay one step ahead of the law, who’s violated federal law, embarrassed every one of us, disgraced the senate, abused the power of his office and failed us. “

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