April 1st, 2012
10:18 AM ET
8 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)

    As Eisenhower (the General) said "Beware the Military/Industrial Complex". Military bases and Military contracts are just "Socialistic Support Programs" for states in the South. They were designed and implemented by high seniority Dixiecrats. These "Red State" representatives and Senators took over high seniority positions on Congressional committees after WWII. They implemented a "support system" that drains money from the wealth producing "blue states" and gives it to the "non-producing, right wing" Red states, in the form of military funding. This BS has GOT to stop! If the Republicans want to stop over spending...start there!

    April 1, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  2. TEEEE

    I'm so sick of politicians saying something and then saying they misspoke when they are called out on it. No, Mr. Ryan, you said exactly what you wanted to say the first time. At least have the courage to stand by your remarks.

    April 1, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |

    Ever notice how the Republican candidates are CONSTANTLY either retracting their comments: "That's NOT what I meant" or blaming the "left wing" press for taking their comments "out of context". I think the MAIN reason they do this is they can't say what they say to their right wing followers .....to the main "electorate". They'd NEVER be elected for "dog catcher"!

    April 1, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  4. Scef

    @ Truth
    I am truly impressed. You are helping to restore my faith in mankind and the belief that we can fix our nations ills as one America.

    April 1, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  5. GOP is for the rich

    Why would the pentagon say the cuts were ok if they were not! Another attempt by the right-wingnuts to want the opposite of anything the administration wants! Cut the budget, but don't cut it! Only cut middle class programs, but we love the middle-class. Some of my friends want to own some from the middle-class!

    April 1, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  6. jimatmadison

    Mr Ryan tried to put his toe into the vice presidential wannabe pool, and immediately was in over his head.

    April 1, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  7. GOP is for the rich

    They don't want the military budget cut because their buddies are making a lot of money selling equipment to the military. It's all about them, not the people!

    April 1, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  8. Al

    Is there any chance you can see Russia from your porch?

    April 1, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  9. jnpa

    I cannot believe how often these republicans open their mouths and offend someone by calling them liars, and then try to undo the harm by saying they misspoke. Do they really think admitting that is going to make everything go away? He better be careful of the generals in the pentagon...they don't give a rats about a congressman!

    April 1, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  10. Eric of Reseda

    Do NOT anger the military-industrial complex!!! Indeed, General Eisenhower warned us of their dark agenda. But note that he said upon LEAVING office. The very next president, who GREATLY angered the m-i complex, was assasinated....

    April 1, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  11. Ricardo

    He's a moron

    April 1, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  12. Cindy

    Sometimes the things you think, have a way of coming out. The GOP has a mission of a big military so they can fight Israel's wars.

    April 1, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  13. jacq

    Idiot, republicans are only concern is lining there pockets.

    April 1, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  14. jimatmadison

    So Mr Ryan knows more about what the military needs than the President's military advisers do?

    That's pretty funny.

    April 1, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  15. Richard in Montana

    Misspoke is one of the most over used terms that these slimebag politicians use. Why not call it a pig when it looks and smells like one-term used by one of your colleagues: You Lie.

    April 1, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  16. basky

    This guy truly mean what he said, he only said he was sorry because he couln't go against the military(Generals). Guess if that was a comment to OBAMA hmmm!! Never will he say sorry!! Its a Game Change!

    April 1, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  17. Anthony

    Did you take a truth serum?

    April 1, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  18. cali girl

    It took 3 days to say he mis spoke. No apology either. Paul speaks like a true rethug/tpartypooper. I wonder if he was pressured to say he mis spoke. Most people with common sense would not have judged the generals of the Pentagon. And this is the guy who's budget plan axes 40% for veterans.

    April 1, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  19. ErniePF

    Ugh. Military, bloated contracts, overpaid generals, billion dollar weaponry. Keerist, pay the troops more money and benefits, and stop the GD military industrial welfare.

    April 1, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  20. B

    The basic truth is that Ryan does not know what he is talking about and he has great company as the majority of Republicans don’t.
    His buddy "Romney the Robot" has the daily occurrence of " I didn’t say that", it is all on tape.

    He didn’t earn the – Etch a Sketch – Moniker for no reason.. They are a great pair.

    April 1, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  21. BADGUY

    You've got to remember. Military equipment produces NO wealth. Saying we need more military spending is like saying we need to employ people to tear down the Hoover Dam..then rebuild it...every year! Of course, we need a military. Of course we need military equipment. BUT....saying we need "more and more" when we've already surpassed, by far, any of our potential enemies, is either "misinformed" or a total "lie". WE'VE GOT to cut military spending. WE'VE GOT to start shutting down the hundreds of military bases we have in the USA and around the world. They add VERY LITTLE to our defense but make HUGE additions to our deficit!

    April 1, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  22. 4merRepubCT

    Congress needs to stick with the original agreement from the last budget debacle. Make the cuts they planned to make and get on with business. I'm so sick of hearing how the 'government' doesn't abide by economic reality, and then seeing Ryan trying to avoid the commitments his own House of Reps signed on for.

    April 1, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  23. GOP is for the rich

    Mis-spoke is what happens when the mouth is in gear and the brain, if there is one, is in idle!

    April 1, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  24. Almost Retired


    Just give me my roughly $200,000 in Social Security, with modest compound interest, that I've paid over 48 years, then you can do away with it for the young'ins and send that money straight to the Military Industrial Complex, your super rich friends!

    April 1, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  25. FitchGetz

    Ahhhh Mr. Ryan......still selling the bologna I see....

    April 1, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
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