April 1st, 2012
10:18 AM ET
2 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. garyM

    I don't gets his issue. He disagrees with the Pentagon budget cut, he doesn't like Obama, or he doesn't like that the Pentagon agrees with the President? Regardless of what he thinks, the Department of Defense sets the budgetary target for the Pentagon and it is up to them to meet it. Making a circus out of the whole process is not to the country's best interests. He wants to cut Medicare and Social Security funding but he doesn't want to cut spending for the military. Who wants to live in a country where their tax payer money only goes to funding wars?

    April 1, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  2. Ken

    Ryan's entire budget was a mis-speak.

    April 1, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  3. DocAvak

    Is it really that difficult for people to see that the Republican Party is only supportive of the Elite 1% and that the rest of the population are considered sponges! It's so transparent but yet they have a strong supportive base.The Democratic Party needs to do a better job of exposing the GOPs agenda. The GOP loves to use FEAR, and act as ATTACK dogs putting the opposition on the defensive. Our society will crumble if they end up controlling both the House and the Senate!

    April 1, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  4. tomnikoly

    “I think we have to take the generals' word as they give it to us,”

    ROFLMFAO.....!!!! Yeah that worked well in every war and misdeed since the end of WWII. I think Bill Maher is right...we ALL are stupid here in the US.

    April 1, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  5. Ozzie

    You extremists just do not know how to speak. You say stupid things. Then, you retract those stupid words. You are too dangerous to represent anyone on the local, national, or international stage. You are the most educated, ignorant people on the planet.

    April 1, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  6. Jay

    Ryan's first statement and his apology follow the Republican process - and the Democrats' too, to a lesser degree - of throwing red meat to the party's uninformed faithful, then, when someone authoritative calls you on it, claiming total inability to speak clearly. At the end, of course, the meat is in the pen, the animals are riled up and nothing is going to erase the initial lie. Perhaps it's effective, but it's not what you do for the good of your country.

    April 1, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  7. HenryB

    Look at that face. All apologetic and angelic looking. A wolf in sheep's clothing. I love these Republicans. They always tell us to listen to the "Generals on the ground" when wanting to cut troops in these hideous wars. Then, when the generals tell us about budget cuts that don't suit the Republicans, these fake conservatives accuse these same generals of being liars. Wonderful bunch of hypocritical politicians. Sorry for the redundancy.

    April 1, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  8. Ray E. (Georgia)

    "The Era of Big Government is over" Maybe in Novemebr it will come to pass. It is time for all the Freeloaders to start paying up.

    April 1, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  9. regis990

    Wow. What a surprise. John Kyl the 2nd...er...Paul Ryan, gets caught LYING and says he only misspoke. Well, what else does one expect from the party of Big Oil, Big Insurance, and the 1%? Oops, I misspoke, I meant to call them the "Heroes of the middle class."

    April 1, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  10. once upon a horse

    Ryan was right....oh wait APRIL FOOLS!!!

    April 1, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  11. Joseph

    Ryan has been misspeaking for years.... Any time he says his policies are good for the country, Ryan is misspeaking.

    April 1, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  12. Claudia, Phoenix, AZ

    Ryan is throwing our Military under the bus for his own personal and political gains, no so-called Statesman should ever speak in this manner, these men and women put their lives on the line for us everyday. Ryan needs to show some respect for them even if he doesn't have any respect for seniors and the poor.

    April 1, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  13. once upon a horse

    @ Scef and Anthony......

    before you commend "truth" remember today IS April Fools Day!

    April 1, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  14. Sirned

    Republicans use big fat lies to mislead their base. They say the lie all over the media then they walk it back only on the networks that the righties don't watch...Brilliant PR...Lousey for Democracy because it keeps voters misinformed...

    April 1, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  15. sassysticks53

    If ever there was a reason not to vote for a republican, Paul Ryan would would be an excellent reason.

    April 1, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  16. Lt. J.

    Let Ryun really learn about the military. Put him in uniform and send him to the Afghan front lines. He can "misspeak clumsily" all he wants there. Won't amount to a hill of beans.

    April 1, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  17. penny

    Why is it when Republicans put their feet in their mouths, they have misspoken is their excuse for saying exactly what they wanted to say all along. I agree with Annie from Atlanta about Paul Ryan.

    April 1, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  18. spenteco

    All Ryan knows about he military is what he has heard, you know, hearsay, as he he too chickens–t too have any 1st person knowledge. Same for McConnell. What passes for patriotism in lil GOP land won't get the job done.

    April 1, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  19. CaliforniaBC

    No he didn't misspeak. He responded in typical reactionary, right-wing fashion when someone challenges their beliefs with facts.

    April 1, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  20. RPU

    Of course they want to keep their jobs. They'll bow to anyone, if they feel threatened!

    April 1, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  21. GaryOwen2/7

    The Red Neck Right doesn't know their back side from a hole in the ground when it comes to defense or national security...who was that again that was asleep at the wheel on 9/11?

    April 1, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  22. gramma nance

    Ah...the usual GOP stance....CYA...and blame it on not choosing the right words! Does ANYONE in the GOP know how to speak the TRUTH? Obama 2012!

    April 1, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  23. Wendy

    Rep Ryan clarified his initial comments very effectively. He then called Gen Dempsey to personally apologize and clarify. Rep Ryan has a great head for numbers, is solid on core character values, and is an effective communicator. His integrity, intelligence, and work ethic put him head and shoulders above many in Congress. He's an exceptional representative and would make a great VP for America.

    April 1, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  24. Big Moe in Wi.

    Could it be the golden boy of the republican party misspoke? I don't think so. I think he said what he feels. The house will be cleaned up in Wisconsin this summer and fall.

    April 1, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  25. kuewa

    Another mis-speaking TP-Repub. Do any of them NOT mis-speak?

    April 1, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
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