April 1st, 2012
10:18 AM ET
3 years ago

Rep. Paul Ryan: 'I really misspoke'

(CNN) – House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said Sunday he misspoke earlier in the week when he accused military officials of not being honest about the Pentagon budget.

“I really misspoke,” Ryan said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I didn’t mean to make that kind of an impression. So, I was clumsy in how I was describing the point I was trying to make.”

On Thursday, the Wisconsin congressman said senior military leaders had been misleading when they defended a decrease in Pentagon spending proposals. He argued that the generals were not “giving us their true advice” and accused them of toeing an administration line.

"I think there is a lot of budget smoke and mirrors in the (administration's) Pentagon budget, which is not really a true, honest and accurate budget. When you confront military experts - retired or active - they concede these things to us," Ryan said.

His comments came after he unveiled his plan for the 2013 budget, which was passed by the Republican-controlled House on Thursday. The GOP proposal protects defense spending by replacing a $55 billion scheduled cut in the Pentagon budget with cuts elsewhere in the federal government.

Republicans have long argued against the previously arranged Pentagon cuts, reached in a deal between Congress and the White House in August, and praised Ryan’s budget for undoing the reductions.

However, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, responded to Ryan’s remarks in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, saying “there’s a difference between having someone say they don’t believe what you said versus ... calling us, collectively, liars.”

Dempsey stood by his testimony before Congress earlier this year in which he said the Pentagon’s budget was based on a “strategy-driven” process.

On Sunday, Ryan told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley that he called Dempsey to apologize and clarify his comments.

“What I was attempting to say is, President Obama put out his budget number for the Pentagon first, $500 billion cut, and then they began the strategy review to conform the budget to meet that number,” Ryan said. “We think it should have been the other way around.”

On the same program Sunday morning, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also commented on the stir surrounding Ryan’s remarks.

“I think we have to take the generals' word as they give it to us,” he said. “We're going to move in the direction of making sure that America still is No. 1 in the world in defense, and the defense sequester, which I suspect Congressman Ryan was referring to, is something that many of us are looking at as something that could put us in a position to no longer be No. 1.”

– CNN’s Alan Silverleib contributed to this report.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.


Filed under: Paul Ryan • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (175 Responses)
  1. gg

    vote republican =bridge to no where

    April 1, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  2. kenny

    If you look up the word Republican in the dictionary you will find it defined as an Idiot on Steriods. I hope Romney chooses Paul Ryan as his VP candidate for this election. That will assure a re-election for President Obama who, if you will note, is not addressed as President Obama by the Right. They show their disrespect for him by simply calling him Barack Obama or just plain Obama. What a bunch of Warmongering losers.

    April 1, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  3. BBPatriot

    Oh c'mon. This is John Boehner's next chance at the American Dream!

    April 1, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  4. Pat

    The only point ryan can make is the one he calls his head.

    April 1, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  5. MikeM

    @Annie,Atlanta and 1twinsfan and everyone else repeating the same mantra–

    Killing Medicare? Seriously. The fastest way to kill Medicare is to leave it on the present path to accelerated bankruptcy. You may not agree with Ryan's proposal, but at least he is proposing something. Are you willing to actually look at the numbers and agree that Medicare is on a path to financial oblivion?

    If so, let’s talk GAO projections, deficits, budgets, debt as a percent of GDP, interest expense as a percent of budget, per capita debt, and what we can afford. Like grown-ups.

    If not, then you are oblivious to the premise for any rational discussion.

    April 1, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  6. Tony in Maine

    Ruh, roh. He isn't reading the Republican stylebook. You're supposed to say, "It was taken out of context." or, if that falls flat, you say, "I was joking."

    April 1, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  7. normajean @ verizon ,com

    Just like so many Republicans.....you mouth off and then you stop and think about what you said......too late...you've already got both feet inn your mouth!!!!
    !

    April 1, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  8. Mark Russell

    Asshat didn't misspeak. He thought his comments would be taken in one way, poitively for him, and they were actually taken in another way, negatively for him. He isn't big enough to say, "I was wrong."

    April 1, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  9. terry

    Paul Ryan misspoke??? Were his lips moving?? His claim of saving Medicare is an example of Ryan misspeak.

    April 1, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  10. CJPA

    It was certainly a lot of "well thought out" words to take back! Hmm. Wonder who got to him on this one!! The Republicans just are absolutely clueless, and it shows. They don't even TRY to get the facts right!!

    April 1, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  11. Ron

    What he meant was, if someone doesn't see things like he sees them they are liars. After all, Mr. Ryan knows more of what the military needs than those who actually run it. This is how low these guys have become......they hate the president so much that they accuse anyone who supports him of lying. Come on, Wisconsin, get rid of this joker.

    April 1, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  12. Jean Sartre - Milwaukee, WI

    Little PAULIE is the very definition of MISSPOKE...

    April 1, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  13. Jason

    “What I was attempting to say is, President Obama put out his budget number for the Pentagon first, $500 billion cut, and then they began the strategy review to conform the budget to meet that number,” Ryan said. “We think it should have been the other way around.”

    Umm, no. Why? Because no matter what party he or she is from, the President is the commander and chief of the military. The Pres says jump, and the military is supposed to say, "How high?" Not the other way around. That *is* what The Constitution says...without Amendment!

    April 1, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  14. joe

    "I have offended my military-industrial masters. I beg your forgiveness, o mighty ones. I live only to grovel"

    April 1, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  15. MJMullinII

    "and accused them of toeing an administration line"

    Yes...how dare the United States Military look to their Commander in Chief for direction when Paul Ryan is available. /s

    April 1, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  16. Larry L

    @MikeM

    @Annie,Atlanta and 1twinsfan and everyone else repeating the same mantra–

    Killing Medicare? Seriously. The fastest way to kill Medicare is to leave it on the present path to accelerated bankruptcy. You may not agree with Ryan's proposal, but at least he is proposing something. Are you willing to actually look at the numbers and agree that Medicare is on a path to financial oblivion?

    If so, let’s talk GAO projections, deficits, budgets, debt as a percent of GDP, interest expense as a percent of budget, per capita debt, and what we can afford. Like grown-ups.

    If not, then you are oblivious to the premise for any rational discussion.
    ---------------------------------------------------------–
    If the talk is about math please explain how we're to sustain increases in healthcare costs of 7-9% per year? Don't give me the right-wing mantra(s) about socialism and death squads – talk numbers. If the insurance pool doesn't include the young and healthy –
    How can any insurance company accept people with any affliction or disease?
    How can they not cap spending on an individual's problem when costs of a single year's treatment can exceed a million dollars?
    Why wouldn't they drop you if you're bad for the bottom-line?
    Who will pay for the uninsured who use the E.R. as their primary care system?
    Why not reject people when the system gives no reward for fitness or preventive care?
    If we can't require people to buy insurance how can we cap lawyer's fees for tort reform?
    Isn't tort reform the same sort of governmental control conservatives hate?

    SIngle-payer health insurance and a federally-run healthcare system is the only solution – one that's used in every first-tier nation on earth except the U.S. Don't try the conservative ploy of slamming Canada, Norway, Switzerland, and Germany. They love their systems and get better results than the U.S. Just look at our stats in every area used to measure population healthcare. Okay – you want to talk statistics – so talk!

    April 1, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  17. Jason

    @MikeM, ok, but, let's also talk about who put us there, and if you look at all those pretty numbers of yours they all point at Republicans who keep having to raid entitlement accounts to pay for their ignorant economic follies. Yes, let's talk about that, shall we?

    April 1, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  18. JC in Western U.S.

    If I ever heard a perfect example of doublespeak, it was McConnell's explanation of Ryan's explanation. Would somebody please tell me in English why the Generals were upset, and what McConnell was trying to say?

    April 1, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    Ryan: "I really misspoke."

    Translation: "I said what I meant, but in retrospect it was insulting and dumb, so I'm trying to take it back. My base will believe my BS, but thinking people can see right through me. Darn!"

    April 1, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  20. aaron

    An honest mistake...he lies all the time, expects everyone else to do the same.

    April 1, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  21. markiejoe

    With every passing year, I despise the modern-day Republican Party politicians more and more.

    April 1, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  22. AgrippaMT

    Don't you just love it when these corrupt Republicans like Ryan make bald-faced dishonest statements in public and then claim "I misspoke." Pure unadulterated hypocrisy reigns.

    April 1, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  23. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    In other words, you're calling the generals that don't think the way you do and dare speak their mind in support of the President, liars! Nice! I'm sure the people of Janesville must be really proud. I hope they boot your backside to the curb come November.

    April 1, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  24. Roman

    WOW!!! #republicantrough.....

    April 1, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  25. chas

    i'm tired of all of this "I misspoke" nonsense no matter the venue or person making the comment. so you had a dumb idea and expressed yourself. admit you're human, and we've all had dumb ideas from time to time (so welcome to the club, and not try to be "god-like" in that you perceive yourself as having to have perfect thought.

    say, "sorry – that was a pretty dumb idea now that i think about it...." and move on.

    April 1, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
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