Ryan renews defense of GM plant claim
September 4th, 2012
09:12 AM ET
2 years ago

Ryan renews defense of GM plant claim

(CNN) - Paul Ryan continued defending his speech at the Republican National Convention Tuesday, saying the link he made between President Barack Obama and a closed auto plant in Wisconsin was accurate and reflected a record of failed promises from the Democratic incumbent.

"What they are trying to suggest is that I said Barack Obama was responsible for the plant that shut down in Janesville. That's not what I was saying. Read the speech," Ryan said on NBC. He made similar comments last week on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."

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Ryan continued Tuesday, "What I was saying is the president ought to be held to account for broken promises. After the plant was shut down he said he would lead efforts to restart the plant. It's still idle."

During his speech Wednesday night, Ryan relayed a story about then-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."

In his remarks at the plant in February 2008, Obama was discussing a transition to producing vehicles powered by alternative energy. He said, "I 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."

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

Ryan said Tuesday that while Obama may not have had a hand in closing the auto plant, he was to blame for not re-opening it.

"The promise was he was going to open the plant," Ryan said. "The promise was he was going to lead an effort to retool the plant so people would be open and go back to work for 100 years. The point is he filled people with hope traveling around the country running for president making grandiose promises which are not true."

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Ryan defended Mitt Romney's decision not to mention Afghanistan in his convention speech, saying the Republican nominee had already addressed the issue in remarks to the American Legion the day before his address.

"I think you have to remember the day before that speech Mitt Romney went to the American Legion and gave a lengthy speech on the topic. He was invited, did a lengthy speech the day before," Ryan said.

In that speech, Romney briefly mentioned Afghanistan and paid tribute to troops serving there, but used the majority of his remarks to blast Obama's foreign policy record, which he characterized as weak.

Ryan said on CBS that the Republican ticket agreed with Obama's deadline to bring troops home from Afghanistan by 2014, but said there was disagreement with the president on the wisdom of withdrawal timetables.

"We do agree with the timeline," Ryan said. "Where we have some differences of opinions are political timetables for troop size. We feel that our commanders in the theater ought to have the resources they need, especially throughout the fighting season, to make sure that the counterinsurgency of operations are done with the amount of troops that are needed to see the job through as safely as possible. But we do agree with the 2014 timeline."

CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Paul Ryan • President Obama
soundoff (323 Responses)
  1. NameChi

    Mr Ryan tax cuts wont reopen the plant, u need goverment???

    September 4, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  2. RustyHinges8

    The GM plant speech was so "generalized"....Ryan was grasping at straws, like the RNC did all week long. Obama was make a campaign speech before he was President. He stated in his speech, " 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." So, Mr. Ryan....your plant was dead before Obama arrived to make his speech.

    September 4, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  3. "We Built This"... Campaign On Lies

    Dude, give it up. You've been busted already. You're making yourself look pathetic.

    September 4, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  4. Jill

    Ryan is lying again. You were congressman in that district then ... just what did you do to help keep the plant open. What did your leader Bush do? Nothing – more do nothing and hell no obstructionism. Old people better listen close to what you and Romney are saying because you would do exactly what your budget says. Medicare folks will get a voucher letter and every year have to go out and try to find health insurance with $8000 voucher. Look folks, you know if you are over 55, there is no health insurance plan out there you can buy with an $8000 voucher – even if you add $12000 cash of your own to it every year, there is still no major medical plan out there to buy and you know it! That's just how they want to change Medicare; what if they also privatized Social Security?

    September 4, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  5. NC_Mike

    So when does a president make decisions about what plants private companies open or close? Ryan is delusional. GM decided to close the plan before Obama took office and GM decided not to reopen it – no president can dictate operational decisions to a private enterprise. And sorry Mr. Ryan, you didn't SAY Barack Obama was responsible for the plant that shut down in Janesville, but your carefully parsed words suggest that to the unsuspecting public – which is pure deception out and out. You see, I am an undecided independent voter in the swing state of NC and this is the kind of garbage from both parties that make me want neither, but I will vote for one of them. This pushes me away.

    September 4, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  6. Bob

    One reason Ryan is being "misquoted" is because the first time he made similar allegations he did say that Obama was responsible for the closing of the plant. In his revised version he now claims, incorrectly, that Obama promised to re-open the plant. How could he have promised to reopen the plant if at the time of the speech no one was aware that the plant would be closing down? Even this revised version is misleading. Obama was expressing his support for the US automobile industry and for developing alternative fuel vehicles. If you look at his record you will see that he has supported these efforts and has supported the automobile industry through the stimulus package, thus saving many other plants from going under. Ryan himself took advantage of federal funds for such efforts. One has to wonder, what did Ryan do to help save that plant or any other plants in the automobile industry? I guess this is just another example of his "lapses", like when he said he ran a marathon in less than three minutes when he really meant that he ran it in more than four minutes; a huge difference in any runners mind, but not in Ryan's warped sense of reality and self-aggrandizing.

    September 4, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  7. Chat Pata

    So basically the guy who killed someone is not to be held responsible (i.e. Dubya) but the guy who failed to raise the dead should be (i.e. Obama). The start of a new logic called "Ryan Logic".

    September 4, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  8. frank

    Whatnonsense from Ryan. GM closed the plant in 2008, before he was elected, and his speech hadnothing t do with keeping the plant open. Ryan has a problem distinguishing truth from lies...just like his lie about a sub-3-hour marathon!

    September 4, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  9. danny

    When you say I wasn't saying that "read the speech", you know you are lying out your teeth and being very deceptive.
    Don't be a chump stand on your conviction, Ryan.

    September 4, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  10. RustyHinges8

    (sorry for my mis-spelling) The GM plant speech was so "generalized"....Ryan was grasping at straws. Obama made this campaign speech before he was President. He stated in his speech, " 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." So, Mr. Ryan....your plant was dead before Obama arrived to make his speech.

    September 4, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  11. Bob

    Correction on my previous comment. I meant thee and four hours rather than minutes. If they were minutes we would really be impressed.

    September 4, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  12. yonnie

    How can we have an honest voting process when facts don't matter? Demand politicians to tell the truth and rip them a new asshole when they don't!

    How can we have a rational discussion on who the better candidates are when facts don't matter?

    September 4, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  13. JokerCNN

    You can't hide your Ryan lies
    And your smile is a thin disguise
    I thought by now you'd realize
    There ain't no way to hide your Ryan lies

    September 4, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  14. WiredWeirdinSF

    Ryan has to remember that the media that is going to report his remarks is biased and of course in the control of the corrupt democrat liberals and that fact checkers only seem to check and distort what Republicans say.

    September 4, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  15. good spin

    But it still spin. Ryan rhymes with lyin'. And if it rhymes, it is true.

    September 4, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  16. PJ

    A week later Ryan is still "defending" his speech. Its beginning to look like he is not as smart as he thinks he is,
    and apparently he has a problem being articulate. If you have to keep explaining your words, you missed the
    mark. I bet he wishes he was back in the safe arms of the Tea Party House members where they hang on his
    every word and never question his motives or meaning. "Prime Time" has hit him hard, and he is not ready.
    Does he even read his own speeches?

    September 4, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  17. Cedar Rapids

    "The promise was he was going to open the plant," Ryan said. "The promise was he was going to lead an effort to retool the plant so people would be open and go back to work for 100 years. The point is he filled people with hope traveling around the country running for president making grandiose promises which are not true."

    Once again Ryan has forgotten the whole 'bearing false witness' part of his belief. Obama did not promise anything. What he said was "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."

    He stated his belief that with government help in retooling etc it would stay open. That not a promise in any way, shape or form, and Ryan's attempt to claim it as one is an outright lie.

    September 4, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  18. Susan in Arkansas

    Well, I see that Mr. Ryan is wearing his brand new, shiney tap shoes...tap dancing around his remarks, attempting to convince us that his comments are factual, when they are not. Folks with any sort of intelligence look beyond the string of words and actually look at their substance. It really doesn't matter how many words he "knits" together, he'll never make a real sweater.

    September 4, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  19. barry g

    The records speak for themselves. GM planned to close the plant early in 2008, long before there was the general election and Ryan lied to the public trying to cover his own tracks. He got caught and cannot amit his error, and we want to elect him? The plant did close in early 2009 as planned after fulfilling an order, but this was not because of Obama.

    September 4, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  20. Pete

    "We do agree with the timeline," Ryan said. "Where we have some differences of opinions are political timetables for troop size. We feel that our commanders in the theater ought to have the resources they need, especially throughout the fighting season, to make sure that the counterinsurgency of operations are done with the amount of troops that are needed to see the job through as safely as possible. But we do agree with the 2014 timeline."

    This is someone with no foreign policy experience trying to sound experienced. Romney embarrassed us in London, Israel and Poland. Quite a team.

    September 4, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  21. Ron L- Mich

    As a person who has personally experience the shutting down of a GM facillity in Willowsprings Illinois let me explain to ALL Americans that before GM decided to shut down the plant they looked several different elements. After weighing all the pros and cons of keeping it open they decided it was smarter to close it. Once GM or any car manufacturing decides to shut down a plant everything in that plant has to be resourced to other plants. This is millions of dollars of moving equiptment, and scheduled future programs. Once this process is started it is usually unwise to stop it because of the cost involved. So, to try to tie the President to the closing of this plant is ridiculous. For the President to make the statements he made showed an overly optimistic understanding in what it entails to retrain and convert a manufacturing plant. If the structure is still there and GM has decided not to sell the land there is a slim chance they will retooled and reopen it "IF" the facility is not too old, and the demand gets large enough. But it would be a HUGE investment.

    September 4, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  22. Patrick Bird

    The truth about Paul Ryan can be found in his voting record during the Bush administration, and the subsequent Deficit. He voted for two tax cuts, two unfunded wars, an unfunded medicare prescription drug plan, and a wall street bailout.Willard Romney said he would have let GM go bankrupt. Where would GM be today, as well as Ryan's Janesville plant.The bones of GM would have been picked over by the likes of Romney for profit, not jobs.Ryan has only a passing acquanice with the truth.The truth can be found in both Willard and Paul records, and less with their rhetoric.

    September 4, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  23. Carol

    Ryan suggested that Obama was responsible for shutting down the plant. Keep on lyin' Ryan.

    September 4, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  24. derp

    "We Won’t ‘Let Our Campaign Be Dictated By Fact-Checkers"

    September 4, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  25. al in memphis

    Ryan said Tuesday that while Obama may not have had a hand in closing the auto plant, he was to blame for not re-opening it.
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Excuse me. Are you taking about the President of the United States or the president of GM. I thought the president of GM and its board member where responsible for the business. One salary is $500K and the other is in the millions, so which one would you expect results from for an private business.
    BTW, you might want to let people know that Obama actions keep many of the auto plants and many other industries that support the automotive network from failing. I forgot, politics is not about facts and truth, it's about mindlessly support whatever party you belong to.

    September 4, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
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