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. BeverlyNC

    Ryan did not "misspeak" and none of the other Republicans who say what they really think and they get criticized and suddenly say they"misspoke" or "were taken out of context". If Republicans can not stand by what they say – they are not leaders, just LIARS – and not a single one is fit for any office – especially the Presidency where you cannot "misspeak" every day like these loser Republicans do.
    Another example of why we should get rid of every single Republican in every single local, state, and national seat in November. They cannot be trusted. They have betrayed We the People over and over for the benefit of corporations who buy their votes. They do not represent We the People and have not done one single thing for our benefit in more than 2 years. They are extremists who want to destroy everything we have – every program like Ryan wants to destroy Medicare and Romney endorses that plan just this week. They want to deny poor child hot lunches in schools all the way up to starting another war in Iran without proper research, planning or thought on what it woud mean, cost (and here I thought they were deficit hawks) in dollars and lives. Republicans need to go away for many years and refind their soul, their humanity, their principles, their ethics, their values and learn what Christianity really means. Vote them all out in November and watch how fast our re-elected President Obama gets America back on its feet with a real working Congress who wants America to succeed and recover!

    April 1, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  2. petena

    misspoke? Again? Gosh the GOP misspeaks every day. Maybe they need to take English classes. Maybe we need to look at their birth certificates and the reason they misspeak is because they never learned to speak English.

    April 1, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  3. Dann DFW

    "The generals lied to Congress" vs. "The budget should have been done differently." I can see how those two are so closely related that he could get them confused. Stop picking on this poor man who just wants so... sorry, I can't finish typing this with a straight face.

    April 1, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  4. enuff

    What happened to THINKING before you open your mouth? IF I say this, how can someone else interpret it? Use that thing you call a brain once in a while and you won't have to say you "misspoke".

    April 1, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  5. 21k

    no, he meant what he said. he did mean to accuse the military leaders of purposely putting a lower budget in , to support obama. these gop leaders who have never served in the military respect no one, even those whose character and commitment to our country is so visible. these gop leaders are morally and intellectually bankrupt.

    April 1, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  6. John West

    If the Republicans lose what should be a walkover election against a president detested by millions of Americans, you can put it down to Ryan and his co-conspirators in the Senate, Jim Demint and Lindsey Graham from the South Carolina Brain Trust, Rand Paul, and some moron from Utah whose name I can't remember.

    April 1, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  7. wolfpackbob

    Ryan admitted he was wrong, to the extent that he personally called the general to apologize. How many politicians personally apologize? That should be an easily achieved standard of behavior, but most politicians are both arrogant and cowards. Maybe those on the left would feel better if Ryan and the general had a beer summit? I forget, did President Obama ever apologize to the cop he prejudged and falsely accused? Maybe during his beer summit he whispered his apology when his mike was off.

    April 1, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  8. trex

    .....Yes, Ryan misspoke..............He MEANT to say..............Grandma doesn't need to eat EVERYDAY, now does she? So, lets help our friends in Exxon, GE, Haiburton , and all the rest by taking what's Grandma's NOW, and give to our friends, the corporations, TODAY............!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 1, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  9. Mike in Texas


    Rasmussen polls have been the most unreliable polls, especially in 2010. In more than half the polls they conducted in 2010 the overestimated the margin for the Republicans but did so for Democrats a little over 10% of the time.

    When Obama first took office their poll had Obama's disapproval rating at 36% although no other poll had it more than 20%.

    The only poll that matters is that final vote. Those supporting Obama need to vote and not stay home. We need to overcome the voter suppression laws that Republicans disguised as laws to curtail voter fraud. Republicans know that the higher the voter turnout the greater the chance Obama is re-elected.

    April 1, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  10. steven harnack

    He didn't mean to call them liars. What he meant to say was that" they were administration toadying idiots". It sounds so much nicer that way. We could cut "Defense" spending in half and still have the number 1 military in the world.

    April 1, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  11. Hoosier2012

    Typical GOP liars and cowards....vote them out in November!!!!!!

    April 1, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  12. roro

    How come all these supposed smart people often "misspeak"? How come we keep electing these idiots, who can't even clearly say what they mean? Could it be they ARE saying what they mean, and when caught or criticized, claim they misspoke? Either way, Paul Ryan is a disaster in the making for most Americans and needs to be removed from office.

    April 1, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  13. Jeff In Oregon

    Why does this man not like the Nation taking care of our grandmothers and grandfathers. Cuts in Medicare and none or little for defense. Another hateful and warlike republican. I am so done with this group.

    April 1, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  14. Squigman

    Was a time when a person didn't open their mouth to voice an opinion, without knowledge of the subject being discussed. Guess this is too much to ask of our elected experts? Damn funny how humble they were, before being elected.

    April 1, 2012 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  15. Tom

    Paul Ryan is just another confused republican trying to make sense within an ideology riddled with nonsense.

    April 1, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  16. Thinkergal

    Paul Ryan MISSPOKE? Do Republicans ever do anything else?

    April 1, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  17. Nutter

    So... let me get this straight: The Republicans think that the military should tell the people how much money they want and the people should just do whatever the military says? Does Paul Ryan not understand the principle of civilian oversight of the military? If the US Military (already the single largest organization in the entire world) was allowed to set its own budget then American taxpayers better get ready for some really terrifying debt numbers because those guys have no limits to their imagination. Fiscal responsibility is obviously not a Republican value anymore (if it ever truly was).

    April 1, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  18. craig

    It sounds so funny to hear a member of the GOP speaking about "a true and honest budget." All during the Bush years, the costs of the wars were deliberately left out of the budget...for obvious reasons. It wasn't like we weren't going to have to pay for them, it just looked bad to openly acknowledge that we were running up huge debt because we didn't want to tax the rich. Honesty and budget? The GOP wrote the book on how to lie, and continue to work from the same pages now. Ryan's budget is just more of the same...help the rich, screw the middle class, and ignore the poor...but make the corporations happy. The President's budget may not be perfect, but at least it attempts to be. Ryan needs to go back home and find a real job. Maybe there are openings for professional liars out there.

    April 1, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  19. Homer Stiltz

    Ryan belongs to the Tea Party first and noone else, if you voted for him you did get what you voted for. The Republicans want to cut defense then when it is cut they complain. You just can't satisfy a bunch of jerks.

    April 1, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  20. CBR

    Once again Congress is trying to tell the Pentagon how to spend money. Congress has been the impetus for the continuation of some weapons programs. Whether they will work or not does not matter so long as the contracts for companies in their districts are continued.

    No one ever tells us who these military men are or where they work or what their responsibilities might be. Bet they are not the ones who are doing the work and know the real truth. Our military needs to be lean and mean. We should only give them weapons that work. armor that prevents injuries, helicopters that are safe and maneuverable. Think back to the the beginning of the "War" with Iraq. The men did not have what they needed, Who got the materials for them? Enough said.

    April 1, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  21. edpeters101

    Wasn't Ryan one of the "lip flappers" accusing the White House of moving the goal posts during the budget discussions last year? And people wonder why the left side of the isle doesn't trust the so called conservatives..

    April 1, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  22. Doug Marcum

    McConnell says "I think we have to take the generals' word as they give it to us.” McConnell and many other fine Republicans uses the same phrase to describe Obama: take him at his word that he's a citizen.... take him at his word that he's a Christian.... It always has been and always will be code for "I think they're liars." I guess I'll have to take both Ryan and McConnell at their word that they're not in the pockets of the top one percent, that they have the best interests of the average American in mind, they they're not doing the old Republican "bait and switch." That they're really uniters rather than dividiers. NOT!

    April 1, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  23. JohnRJohnson

    Paul Ryan worked for Americans for Prosperity before he ran for Congress, so he is in the back pocket of the Koch brothers. Anything he does will be to enrich corporations and put the burden of the national debt on the middle class. He is a classic ideologue who worships at the altar of Ayn Rand. Somebody else here called him "dangerous". I think that is an understatement.

    April 1, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  24. Lori R-Lincoln

    Paul Ryan's new buget is the same one he presented last time that includes getting rid of Medicare, Medicade and privatizing SS. Also, lets not forget bigger tax breaks for the top 1% and increased taxes on the middle class and poor. After all extending the Bush' s Taxes have resulted is some job growth and jobs creations by those top 1% which is a big fat lie. The current tax rate is the lowest that it has every been currently yet we have not seen in jobs creations happening over the past 2 years. This is a "pants on fire lie" being repeated as a talking point from the GOP Party of Hell No.

    After the 2010 Election the GOP Party stated that they had the plans for resolving the unemployment crisis, well we the people are still awaiting this solutions. Oh by the way, we do not want to hear cut taxes on the job creators and get rid of regulations. These talking points have not worked in the past and not working now. Cut the lies and crap you are not fooling we the people or may be you are fooling some can not think for themselves

    April 1, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  25. angryoldguy

    My bet is that Romney will pick a surprise. Like the "Weeper of the House", Mr. John Boehner to try and win Ohio. Perhaps the convention will "draft" a pick for him, someone to please the tea party or even put 'Ol Jeb Bush in as V.P. choice du jour! but don't be too surprised if the GOP forces a compromise and a "marriage" of convenience with Santorum.

    April 1, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
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