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Story highlights

Ben Carson wants to close Department of Veterans Affairs

Martin O'Malley wants to fully fund and double national service programs

Washington CNN —  

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democratic presidential candidate, attacked Ben Carson’s desire to eliminate the Department of Veterans Affairs Tuesday, the day after the retired neurosurgeon was named the Republican race’s new front-runner.

“Apparently @RealBenCarson didn’t talk to vets for his vets plan. We should fight for vets, not cut care,” O’Malley tweeted.

Carson wants veterans to have a health savings account that will allow them to pay for private-sector medical care, he said last week according to the Military Times. Carson also said defense-run veterans’ clinics should be for highly specialized care.

“There is a lot of stuff we’re doing that doesn’t make any sense,” Carson said. “We don’t need a Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans Affairs should be folded in under the Department of Defense.”

A new Iowa poll issued Monday showed Carson tied with national GOP front-runner Donald Trump in the caucus state.

“Unlike @RealBenCarson, I am working with vets across the country on a plan that is worthy of their service and sacrifice,” O’Malley tweeted on Tuesday.

The following day, O’Malley announced his plan to double the size of AmeriCorps, a government public service program, as part of his “National Service” plan. O’Malley said his plan would help return veterans to full employment and offer employment alternatives to persons prevented from enlisting in the military for health reasons.

Carson’s campaign did not immediately return requests for comment.