August 30th, 2012
06:25 PM ET
2 years ago

Ryan doesn't back down on controversial comments from speech

(CNN) – Despite facing heated criticism over some comments from his convention speech, GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan stood by his remarks Thursday.

On CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer," Ryan said he would not revise his statements linking President Obama to the closure of a General Motors plant in Wisconsin, even though the decision to shutter the factory occurred before Obama took office.

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"It's still idle," Ryan said. "The point is this is a story of the Obama economy. A man running for president in 2008 making all these grand promises and then none of them occurring."

During his speech Wednesday night, Ryan told a story about then-presidential candidate Obama sharing with auto workers his hope that government could help keep their plant open. In his speech, Ryan quoted Obama as saying "if our government is there to support you ... this plant will be here for another hundred years."

Ryan added: "That plant didn't last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day."

The plant was shut down just over a year later, but the decision to do so occurred in June 2008, prior to Obama winning election to the White House. It officially closed its doors in April 2009, a few months into Obama's first term.

According to a CNN Fact Check, Ryan's statement was true–in the sense that the factory closed down while Obama was president, but his speech was incomplete.

The CNN report states: "To fairly evaluate Obama's statement, at least two pieces of context – missing from Ryan's account – would be useful: First, that Obama wasn't telling this plant that he'd save it from a pending closure. He wasn't addressing a plant that he knew to be closing, because the closure announcement didn't come until four months after his speech. Second, although the plant's last bit of production stopped early in Obama's presidency and the plant remains closed, the closure was planned before Obama became president."

But Ryan on Thursday did not walk back his comments.

"He got elected. He put his policies in place and the plant is still shut down," Ryan said on CNN. "These are empty promises that become broken promises, and that's the story of the Obama economy."

The House Budget chairman also stood by another jab he made Wednesday, blaming Obama for "doing nothing" over last year's debt deal fiasco.

"He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing," Ryan, who served on that panel, said in his convention speech.

According to a CNN Fact Check, Ryan was misleading over the so-called Bowles-Simpson plan–the deficit reduction proposal that became the end product of the presidential debt commission. However, the proposal failed to gain enough votes from the group's 18 members to pass. Ryan, himself, even voted against the plan.

The CNN Fact Check states: "Obama didn't sign onto the Bowles-Simpson recommendations wholeheartedly, but he did take some of their suggestions to Congress in 2011. And Ryan ignores his own role in the failure of the Bowles-Simpson panel."

Pressed about it further Thursday, Ryan emphasized the budget plan he put forward, arguing that he at least took action beyond the commission, whereas the president did not.

"We took the best ideas from Bowles-Simpson and added other ideas and passed it. President Obama did none of that. President Obama said 'I don't like this plan' and offered nothing in return," Ryan said.

Asked about the last-minute debt ceiling deal reached between Congress and the White House last summer–one for which House Speaker John Boehner engaged in multiple negotiations with Obama–Ryan said it wasn't enough.

"It was a small or medium-sized deal, and cutting a back room deal that gives you liability is not leadership," Ryan said. "Submitting a budget to Congress that fixes a problem is leadership, and we haven't seen it from President Obama."

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Filed under: 2012 • Debt • Deficit • Paul Ryan • Republican National Convention • TV-The Situation Room
soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. Where Was Romney In All This?

    Clearly GM had made the decision in June 2008 to close the plant. No amount of lobbying by Ryan and the Governor of Wisconsin at the time could save Janesville at that point. Now Ryan is trying to retroactively shift the blame of the Janesville closing to Obama when Ryan himself could not save Janesville, try as hard as he could, because GM had refused to change their mind about the Janesville closing.

    Lost in all of this, of course, is what was Mitt Romney's expert advice on the auto bailouts? Maybe Ryan thinks he would have gotten a different outcome if the Romney plan for auto bailouts had been applied at the time. The Romney plan, and I quote:

    "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt 11/18/2008

    By Mitt Romney

    If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed."

    So the Romney plan seems like a real winner, right? George Bush didn't think so. The auto industry asked the Bush administration for a bailout, and George Bush set the wheels in motion to give it to them. Obama then became president after plans were in place for the auto bailout. I guess at that point Obama could have refused to follow through on the Bush auto bailout, but he agreed with Bush and followed through with it. No matter what decision Obama had made on the auto bailouts, you can rest assured that he would been taking the blame regardless.

    The Romney policy would have been certain death for Janesville, GM, along with the loss of many more jobs. So why don't we blame Romney's policies for closing Janesville? It makes as much sense as blaming Obama. Romney, like Obama, wasn't the president at the time either, and Romney's idea of saving it was to kill it completely.

    August 30, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  2. the Situation

    Spanglish

    The plant was functioning still in 2009 and Obama did not do a thing only saved. The jobs for the syndicates and its pension , He also forgot the GM/Deldhi workers they were not syndicaliised and 290.000 thousands were let go they pans ions cut by 45% and they are living out of the basics. Obama is the worst thig ever happen to US.

    August 30, 2012 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |

    You won't know the truth if it bite you it the behind.

    That same plant laid off majority of their workers in December 2008. Obama was only President-Elect, George W.Bush was still the President and that was coming on or after the 1st stimulus package that any money Ryan signed on for.

    Let you Repubs believe in all your lies and decit. Karl Rove, the Kroch, opps I meant the Koch Brothers and all the money in the world won't buy and steal this election. What the Repubs want his Obama and his team to bow down like Kerry did with those Swift Boats ads when he was gaining on Dubya on 2004. That won't happen. All the money in the world won't help Romney when he goes one on one with Obama in those debates. Watch a skillful person on the mic and knows how to talk to everyday people and connect against an out of touch, lying wanna be.

    August 30, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  3. Republicans; the "Not Intended to be Factually Accurate" Party

    Neglected to menttion that someone like abill Maher should deliver this routine DURING the Denocratic Convention.

    August 30, 2012 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
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