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)
  1. rcindallas

    does anyone realize that the US spends more on defense in one year than the next 15 countries COMBINED.....and 12 of those 15 countries are our ALLIES!!!!!....but don't take my word...research it....

    April 1, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  2. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    After you lose in November, we won't have to see your ugly face again, you coward!

    April 1, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  3. Annie, Atlanta

    Funny how they always come out with "misspoke" when they get called out for saying something they believe.

    Paul Ryan is a dangerous politician, and his beliefs are a danger to our decent and humane society (or what's left of it). If I were in charge of the Democratic organizations, he would be my #1 target. His budget does kill Medicare, no matter his lies. It gives seniors a set cash amount each year with which to use to buy their own health insurance coverage. Can you see an 86 year old with heart problems being able to cover their health insurance needs with $5000 a year? Seriously? This tells me Paul Ryan believes old people should just drop dead. And he'll continue to believe so until he's an old person. That's how it goes with hypocrites. Look at the tea party. Goverment programs are bad but keep your hands off my Medicare and SS. God I'm sick of the hypocrisy, and I'm sick of politicians who get tax payer salaries and benefits yet want to take away our own taxpayer benefits, and give the rest to Wall Street (as in privatizing SS). When are we going to learn, for goodness sake?

    April 1, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  4. Patriot Awesome

    What a D-Bag! This is the deal you struck when you wanted to cut spending. I'm all for cutting spending but don't take it out on the less fortunate and middle class! Buy a few less missiles and battle ships for crying out loud! We could cut our military in half and still have the largest military in the world.

    April 1, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  5. mike

    Idiot on steroids

    April 1, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  6. 1twinsfan

    Who will Romney pick as his VP ruinning mate? Ryan, a Medicare killer and representing a state not too pleased with the GOP right now? Rubio, the Cuban-American in an attempt to garner the Hispanic vote? You can't assume all Hispanics think alike, as if they're an interchangeable ethnicity. My experiences have shown that those of Mexican descent don't like Cubans and they're represent a large chunk of the Hispanic voting community. Good old boy from VA, Gov. McDonell, aka GOV. VP? Not if you want the women's vote. And Romney would be a fool to pick either Santorum or Gingrich.

    Oh wait, I misspoke.

    April 1, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  7. Randall Bart

    Kinsley gaffe

    April 1, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  8. jimatmadison

    "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."

    Misspeaking is when you accidentally give a wrong number, say a wrong name, or excitably overstate something.

    This was a calculated attack against the President's military advisors. Too bad, Mr Former VPwannabe.

    April 1, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  9. dreucalypt

    He didn't mis-speak. He did what all Republicans do when somebody says something that doesn't serve their agenda.

    April 1, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  10. drgrover

    Weakness at home; belligerence abroad.

    April 1, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  11. ThinkAgain

    Not only was Ryan calling the military officials liars, he also accused them of being wimps for toeing the "administration line."

    Mind you, Ryan and other Repubs call President Obama "weak" and not a "leader," and yet he somehow many all these military folks cower before his budget demands!

    The simple fact is Ryan and all the Repubs have nothing to offer our country, so whenever someone says something they don't like, they attack them personally, once again employing the tactics of anger, fear, hatred and division to harm our country in an effort to score political points with their "base."

    Why would anyone vote for these imbeciles?

    Obama/Biden 2012

    April 1, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  12. basky

    Wish we could vote them all out in November!!...well except OBAMA/BIDEN

    April 1, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  13. dnick47

    Every time a Repub gets caught in a lie or realizes he has alienated a segement of the American populace the reply is always" "I misspoke." Reagan at least acted like he didn't hear the question – funny fo a man with all that money and not enough to buy hearing aids.

    April 1, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  14. ThinkAgain

    Seriously, folks, who do you think knows more about what should be in the defense budget: Military officials who have all the information and actually know what it takes to defend our country, or some GOP lackey trolling for the VP nod from Mittens? (BTW, military service for Mittens and Ryan = NONE)

    April 1, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  15. kathi

    It seems like everytime one of the current crop of republican candidates opens his mouth he then has to spend three days backtracking and trying to convince everyone he either misspoke or meant something different. Is that how they plan to govern?

    April 1, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  16. mk1

    No, Ryan said exactly what he meant to say and is now feeling the heat, as well he should. I love how all these Republicans who have never served(except for Paul) try to give the impressions that they know exactly what the military thinks and should do. I will grant you that President Obama had no experience either but he has had three years of on the job training and has made some fantastic decisions during that time. These idiots scare the you know what out of me and they will gladly get us into another war and as usual let others do the fighting. I still am waiting for at least one of Romney's sons to enlist, as my son is, but I will not hold my breath, they don't have the courage or the character.

    April 1, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  17. ThinkAgain

    Ryan is simply echoing what the GOP believes: Spend all our nation's treasure (human and otherwise) on military spending and then eliminate social spending in the name of "debt reduction."

    Eliminate the Middle Class and lower wages so everyone except the wealthy are working poor. Plunder our resources and employ Americans to make military supplies and fight wars to protect the economic interests of multinational corporations.

    All the while paying lip-service to "God and country," when the only god you worship is money.

    What a pathetic mess the GOP has become!

    April 1, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  18. JerseyGirl

    Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    One misspeak too many! we ARE going to lose in November!
    You heard it here first, folks! Truth, above, is throwin' in the towel! Too funny....!

    April 1, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  19. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    My neighbor had a case of misspeaks. He meant to say to his wife, "pass the orange juice," but instead he said, "you ruined my life."

    April 1, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  20. LouAZ

    "Some fellows get credit for being conservative when they are only stupid.”- Kin Hubbard

    April 1, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Let me get this straight. A General says that the budget he wants is not the same as what t Republicans want him to have, so the General is a liar. Republicans do not mind taking money from programs for the poor, the handicapped, the elderly, minorities, etc, because those groups are not likely to vote Republican anyway. Republicans do want to throw money at the military because many Republicans make tons of money off of the military and it is great for their image to pretend they care about soldiers. If they really carede about the young men and women in the military, they might just want to support those social programs that help military families.

    April 1, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  22. cmcle

    When trying to understand people, it's helpful to have some psychological background. For example, many or most of us from time to time engage in "projection," which involves taking our own unacceptable qualities or feelings and seeing them in other people, whether or not they really exist in the other people.

    In other words, when Paul Ryan calls the Generals at the Pentagon liars, he's actually telling us about himself.

    April 1, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  23. Tom, St Paul

    "Misspoke", huh? These right wingers routinely speak in absolute, apocolyptic terms to delight their base, with a ready apology in their back pocket whenever they need it. Congrats to Gen. Dempsey for calling this creep out. I wish the press would do so more agressively.

    April 1, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  24. Sarah

    Who elects these people?

    April 1, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  25. Niko_in_Richmond

    We truly are becoming a sad and pathetic country, and it will be accelerated if we allow the GOP to gain control of all branches of government. When we spend more on retaining our military might than we do on education and health care to keep our people healthy, that is just beyond comprehension to me. While we have always been country of "dreamers" and "doers," we have always been willing to lend a helping hand to those amongst us who needed the most help. We have always believed that, in order for one person to make it big in this country, he did so with the help of his family, friends and neighbors–NO MAN IS AN ISLAND. Yet, under the current GOP and conservative philosophy, we are headed toward a country where it truly is every man for himself. Well, if we go that route, let's see how success any one person could become if others did not buy his products, he did not receive government incentives (tax breaks, business loans at low rates), he could not use the highways and byways to transport and receive his products, let's see how well he would do in isolation.

    April 1, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
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