Correction: The original version of this post incorrectly listed Yost’s occupation as jail diversion coordinator for the nonprofit Mental Health Association of the New River Valley. Yost said that he left that job in March and now does consulting work in behavioral health.
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling is catching heat for a remark he made about supporters of President Barack Obama over the weekend, and some of it is coming from his own party.
Bolling, the state chairman of Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, made the comment Saturday at a “prebuttal” event prior to Obama’s campaign stop in Henrico County. Here’s the way it was reported by the Daily Press newspaper.
“Bolling said that if people think Obama has done a good job over the past three years , they should vote for him — then ‘check themselves into a mental hospital.’”
Representatives of the National Alliance on Mental Illness condemned Bolling’s remark on Monday, calling it “outrageous, ignorant and prejudiced.”
Today, Del. Joseph Yost, R-Blacksburg, issued a statement calling on Bolling to apologize.
“I am disappointed in the Lieutenant Governor’s comments and I call on him to issue an apology not only to the citizens of this Commonwealth but to all individuals who suffer from a mental health issue and their friends and family,” Yost said. “The comments were not only a disappointment and distasteful but continue the stigmatization of individuals with mental illness.
“This is not a partisan issue. Twenty-five percent of the population suffers from a diagnosable mental health problem.
“While we may elect to disagree with each other’s political views, we should chose to do it in a respectful manner and not one that continues the practice of stigmatizing individuals with mental illness or any others.”
Bolling spokeswoman Ibbie Hedrick responded:
“The Lieutenant Governor did not intend to offend anyone, and if anyone was offended by his comment he would certainly apologize for that. His point was that he just doesn’t understand how anyone could objectively conclude that President Obama has done a good job and deserves a second term. However, he agrees that he could have expressed that view in a better way.”
– Michael Sluss