Road rage: Biden blasts Ryan in auto country over GM comment
August 31st, 2012
03:20 PM ET
2 years ago

Road rage: Biden blasts Ryan in auto country over GM comment

(CNN) - Vice President Joe Biden hit back Friday against his Republican counterpart's recent comments about a shuttered General Motors plant–one that Paul Ryan blamed the president for closing.

"But what he didn't tell you is the plant in Janesville, (Wisconsin) actually closed when President Bush was still in office," Biden said to a local United Auto Workers crowd in Lordstown, Ohio. "He didn't tell ya that."

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Ryan took heat for linking Obama to the closure of the plant during his convention speech Wednesday night. Meanwhile fact-checkers, including CNN, have labeled the congressman's comments incomplete.

During his remarks Wednesday, Ryan told a story about then-presidential candidate Barack Obama sharing with Wisconsin 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. So Biden, saying the plant "closed down" under Bush, was also not fully correct.

Ryan defended his comments Thursday, saying he wasn't accusing Obama of closing the factory, but trying to paint a picture of what he called the "Obama economy."

"It's still idle," Ryan said on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer." "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."

Biden, however, took the opportunity Friday to use Ryan's comments as a way to attack the GOP ticket on the so-called auto bailout. The vice president pointed to Romney's well-known opposition to the federal loans–an opinion Romney made public in a now-infamous New York Times op-ed, titled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt."

"What (Republicans at the convention) didn't say is–but for the sacrifices you all made and the courage of the president of the United States–all those General Motors plants would have closed," Biden said. "General Motors wouldn't have been reorganized. It would have been liquidated. Along with Chrysler."

Continuing the offensive, Biden pivoted and began attacking Romney over his former private equity firm, Bain Capital.

"You know, he is absolutely against the federal government or any government using funds to save jobs, to save industries," Biden said. "He says it's bad business, except when it comes to his business."

The vice president referred to a recent Rolling Stone report that details a $10 million loan the government retired for Bain through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

"While taxpayers did not finance the bailout, the debt forgiven by the government was booked as a loss to the FDIC – and then recouped through higher insurance premiums from banks. And banks, of course, are notorious for finding ways to pass their costs along to customers, usually in the form of higher fees," the article stated.

Citing the report, Biden further used the incident as grounds for charging Romney with hypocrisy.

"It was one thing when a million middle class jobs were on the line. It was another when his own financial interests were on the line," Biden said. "And, now, they say they care about the middle class?"

A spokesman for Ryan responded to Biden's remarks.

“The Vice President can’t answer for this administration’s unfulfilled promises and failed record. The President inherited a troubled economy, but he’s not made it better – he’s made it worse, with fewer jobs and lower incomes for middle-class families. Like many towns across America, Janesville, Wisconsin is still waiting for the recovery the President promised," Brendan Buck said in a statement.


Filed under: 2012 • General Motors • Joe Biden • Paul Ryan
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. cali girl

    Joe has been around the block quite a few more times than wet behind the ears Eddie Munster.
    The debate will be a delight to watch.

    August 31, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. myviewis

    Obama is a typical lawyer who writes in typical attorney style and cannot be held to his words because his point of view is always different from what a person understood him to have said. His words gave the people of Wisconsin the impression that if he were the president he would get the government involved to stop the plant from shutting down but according to his administration his words do not promise Obama will stop the plant from shutting down.

    "“I know that General Motors received some bad news yesterday, and I know how hard your Governor has fought to keep jobs in this plant. But I also know how much progress you’ve made – how many hybrids and fuel-efficient vehicles you’re churning out. And I believe that if our government is there to support you, and give you the assistance you need to re-tool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another hundred years. The question is not whether a clean energy economy is in our future, it’s where it will thrive. I want it to thrive right here in the United States of America; right here in Wisconsin; and that’s the future I’ll fight for as your President.”

    I have to say Obama is a fine, poetic, cautious, precise lawyer.

    August 31, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  3. Walsh

    Almost eveything Joe says is inaccurate and frequently offensively idiotic so that should be interesting...

    August 31, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  4. truth hurts

    Did Crazy Joe ever report back on the nearly TRILLION dollars of stimulus spending and how it was spent? Where did all the money go and what jobs were created because they said we'd he at 6% unemployment now and never go above 8% and none of this happened. Last I recall was Obama cracking wise about shovel ready projects not being as shovel ready as they had hoped.

    But Biden was supposed to be watching this? So where is the summary of results? The current unemployment says it failed miserably. Ryan should focus in on this like a laser beam in the debate.

    August 31, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  5. Fair is Fair

    Biden is as worthless as an ashtray on a motorcycle.

    August 31, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    DJ

    The key to this story is that obama PROMISED that the government would make sure that the plant did not close, and he failed on it.
    --------------
    Yeah, he did make a promise, but you are leaving the critical piece. He said 'IF", if they had government help. Obama may or may not have asked the Bush administration. It really doesn't matter if he did or not. No help from the Bush administration came, and the plant closed two days before Christmas 2008. It had already been previously announced when the other half of the plant site would close.

    August 31, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  7. Rexasaurus Ted

    @DJ: Yeah, you keep fracking that chicken. Hold Obama accountable for things he could in no way have prevented. To hades with all the good he managed to do once he was actually able to effect change.

    August 31, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  8. Scott

    Timmeh: Was that a quiz? "The most inept person to hold the office of VP" The answer, of course, is Dan Qualye. Not even close. For the record, "The most corrupt person to hold the office of VP" would be Dick Cheney.

    August 31, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  9. rs

    I am glad that Biden will do a little "fact-checking" on Ryan, but it will hardly change anything. The GOP seems ever more delusional and devoid of facts. It will make for an interesting debate however if Romney and Ryan insist on having alternative realities.

    August 31, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  10. tee1227

    Here is a good one to, In an interview with Fortune magazine published Thursday, Cantor was asked about Ryan proposing his own budget to turn Medicare into a quasi-voucher system, using the same cuts he called a cold "power play" by Democrats during his Republican National Convention speech on Wednesday.

    "The assumption was that, um, the, the, ah, again — I probably can't speak to that in an exact way so I better just not," he said.

    August 31, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  11. rs

    Meanwhile, if Mr. Ryan wished to bend space and time a little to blame Obama for the closure of one plant, how is he going to address Mr. Romney's "let them go bankrupt" statement. Aside from the ever greater disaster that would have caused, is he simply going to ignore it (it was in the Wall Street Journal), or somehow blame Obama for that too? Maybe he can include dragons and wizards in his plot!

    August 31, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  12. A Kickin` Donkey

    Tell them the HARD TRUTH Joe!

    Mitt Romney looted the American Treasury by taking money out of employee pension funds while at Bain. The US taxpayer had to replace this shortfall through the US Pension Guarranty Corp. Romney pocketed the money. He stole from everyone of us taxpayers.

    I can`t wait for Soledad, Wolf, Anderson, Erin to be a real journalist and follow up on this. Follow the money.

    If you don`t Rachel Maddow will have to show you all how to be a take no BS journalist.

    August 31, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  13. Thomase

    @DJ

    If you research, part of the bailout provided by Obama was to restructure that particular plant. GM as mentioned above in comments declined for the Janesville plant as the site of van and truck manufacturing was hemorrhaging money.

    August 31, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  14. Jules

    Go get him, Joe, put Lyan Ryan in his place.

    August 31, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  15. myviewis

    These are the words people heard and these are the words people believed in and yes Democrats are correct in that it all depends on your point of view. In Obama's point of view he was just not making a promise.

    "Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama gave this speech at the General Motors plant in Janesville, Wisconsin on February 13, 2008.
    “I know that General Motors received some bad news yesterday, and I know how hard your Governor has fought to keep jobs in this plant. But I also know how much progress you’ve made – how many hybrids and fuel-efficient vehicles you’re churning out. And I believe that if our government is there to support you, and give you the assistance you need to re-tool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another hundred years. The question is not whether a clean energy economy is in our future, it’s where it will thrive. I want it to thrive right here in the United States of America; right here in Wisconsin; and that’s the future I’ll fight for as your President.”

    August 31, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  16. Jules

    Timmeh – Got $10,000 to put on the bet? Joe Biden will drive Ryan to his knees. Ryan will keep trying to turn everything back to the economy, but that's hard to do when your voting record is part of the economic problem. This is why it is hard for senators and congress people to win – because they have a traceable record.

    August 31, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  17. Vote for Seamus, elect Kolob's next dog catcher

    The republicans have selected the correct president for Republistan, not the the United States.

    Bishop Romney the business liquidator, layoffs and sell offs is how he made his money.
    Cryin Ryan, another businessman, drove a hot dog truck as his best job before getting a lifetime government job with good bennies.

    Ryan when you and Clint are not cryin, check the facts on Janesville and foreign policy.
    If you and your fellow religious flip flopper are not careful, and the American public elects you, besides the country financially going down the tubes, you might set off a nuclear war.

    Do the best for America, go back to driving a hot dog truck, take robot Willie with you.

    August 31, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  18. That Guy

    I wonder if Biden will address Rep. Ryan in an empty chair? #Eastwooding

    August 31, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. Did we get it..?...or not..!

    Pres Obama is a leader in "Deliberate Ridicule-Sarcasm" before or since the 2008-Primaries...and finally and past overdue
    ...what Clint Eastwood did at the GOP-Convention........IS........confronted the Invisible-Obams sittiing in a chair about his Leadership in the White House that always seems to be laced with "Deliberate Ridicule-Sarcasm"...and that is what Clint did with "Deliberate Ridicule-Sarcasm"....The Media did not get it....but Pres Obama sure will..........

    August 31, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  20. Ronda in Houston,TX

    You go Joe! Tell it like it is. I never heard Romney state that Bain requested government bail-out money. I guess Romney forgot to telling people that one. And Paul Ryan is following in Romney the Puppet Liar's footsteps by not telling the whole truth either Joe will sweep Paul right off the debate stage.

    Obama/Biden 2013-2016!!!!!!

    August 31, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  21. Norma Vessels

    When Joe Biden debates Paul Ryan, there will be no running from the lies spoken, the lies spreading like wild fire through the Republican party. Joe will bring out the truth .. he doesn't tolerate lies. Yes, he makes errors in where he's at, he fumbles the time or size of something, but he will not deliberately lie, and we all know that. Joe Biden is our fumbling, bumbling, truth sayer, and you can take his truth to the bank!

    August 31, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  22. Yes but....

    Good news for Biden, Hillary Clinton is in the Cook Islands in the far southeastern Pacific. She can't possibly get any further away Charlotte, NC and still be on earth. That means Obama can't dump Biden until she gets back.

    August 31, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  23. Michael Thompson

    The father company did, not Bain Capitol. There was a period of time when the father company was on the ropes and Romney went back to reorganize it. That's when he requested the bailout. Bain Capitol has never been in that kind of shape, though there was a period of time when they had virtually spent all of their money and seriously needed a success in order to continue to stay in business.

    August 31, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    These are the words people heard and these are the words people believed in and yes Democrats are correct in that it all depends on your point of view. In Obama's point of view he was just not making a promise.

    Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama gave this speech at the General Motors plant in Janesville, Wisconsin on February 13, 2008.

    “.... And I believe that if our government is there to support you, and give you the assistance you need to re-tool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another hundred years...."
    -------------------------------
    In order to make a "promise", you actually have to use the word "promise" or something similar. It's a requirement.

    Candidate Obama was making the workers aware of the fact that the Bush/Republican administration would not support them, and Bush administration didn't. The plant closed two days before Christmas.

    August 31, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  25. rrd

    That Guy

    I wonder if Biden will address Rep. Ryan in an empty chair? #Eastwooding
    August 31, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
    --------------------------------------

    If he does he'll probably spend the whole time looking for him.

    August 31, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
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