By Carten Cordell |Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
ALEXANDRIA — The National Alliance on Mental Illness is denouncing comments by Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who told The Daily Press in Hampton Roads voters supporting a second presidential term for Barack Obama should “check themselves into a mental hospital.”
NAMI executive director Michael Fitzpatrick and NAMI Virginia executive director Mira Signer released a joint statement Monday, calling Bolling’s comments “an insult to all Virginians and all Americans — including active duty military personnel, veterans and people who actually live with mental illness.
“It is an outrageous, ignorant and prejudiced statement. It represents ‘stigma-slinging,’ one of the worst practices in American politics.”
One in four Americans experience mental health problems every year, the release says, and it called on Bolling to apologize.
The comments came Saturday in Glen Allen, where Obama made a campaign stop. The Daily Press reported Bolling was serving as GOP “greeter” for the event.
“Take a look at what the president has done the past four years and then do exactly the opposite if you want to get the economy moving again,” Bolling told the paper. He said if people support the president for a second term, along with voting for him, they should “check themselves into a mental hospital.”
The comments have drawn negative attention to Bolling, state chair of the Mitt Romney presidential campaign.
NAMI called on Romney “to disavow the statement and speak out forcefully against the stigma that traditionally surrounds mental illness.”
Bolling spokeswoman Ibbie Hedrick said the comments were not meant to make light of mental illness.
“The Lieutenant Governor’s comment was not intended to offend anyone,” she said in an email. “He was obviously using hyperbole to illustrate the old saying that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity, and he is amazed that anyone would think that President Obama is doing a good job and deserves a second term.”
The Romney campaign was unavailable for comment before deadline.