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Md. gov candidate suggests Iraq War vet opponent not up for 'real job'

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Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler. (AP)

A Democratic candidate for governor of Maryland is defending comments he made Monday in which he suggested his opponent, an Iraq war veteran, was not up to the task of a “real job.”

Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler drew ire from a veterans’ group after he made the comments about his opponent for the Democratic nomination, Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, at an event held by the Tech Council of Maryland.

During the event, Gansler was asked what the state had learned from the rollout of ObamaCare. Maryland’s state-run exchange has been particularly troubled, and earlier this month the exchange’s board of directors voted to replace technology in the system with one used in in Connecticut's exchange instead of fixing its current system or partnering with the federal government.

Gansler said the website’s woes prove Maryland needs someone who has leadership experience and worked with budgets; someone, he claimed, unlike Brown.

“I’m running against somebody who has never managed anybody, never run anything, his ads are about how he’s a lawyer in Iraq, and that’s all fine and good but this is a real job,” Gansler said.

Gansler was referencing a recent campaign ad by Brown, in which he talks about serving in the Army ROTC, the Army Reserves and being deployed to Iraq.

Gansler’s comments were slammed by a veterans’ group VoteVets.org, whose chairman told the Baltimore Sun his comments were “slime ball politics.”

“Doug Gansler needs to stop smearing those of us who served in Iraq as not having had a ‘real job,’ "Jon Soltz, whose group has endorsed Brown, said. “It’s a horrible insult to all those men and women who put their lives on the line, and especially those who died, in service to this country."

Gansler said in a statement to FoxNews.com his comments simply needed to be clarified.

“I have the utmost respect for his military service and for veterans,” Gansler said. “The point I was trying to make is that Anthony Brown's only attempt to lead as Lieutenant Governor was the unmitigated debacle of the health exchange website that denied Marylanders access to health care and cost taxpayers nearly $200 million.”

Brown and the state’s current Gov. Martin O’Malley have blamed the website’s vendors for the problems with Maryland’s state exchange. He and Gansler face off in the primary June 24. 

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