Ryan renews defense of GM plant claim
September 4th, 2012
09:12 AM ET
10 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. Rudy NYC

    Ryan Was Right

    The plant actually closed in 2009 after Obama was elected.
    It was idle in 2008 but Obama promised to help convert it to keep it open for another century.
    And of course this didn't happen and it was closed permanently.
    Actually, the Isuzu plant closed in 2009 and the GM plant closed in 2008. Isuzu had announced that they were closing that plant 2-3 weeks prior to canidate Obama's 2009 visit. Meanwhile, what did Paul Ryan did to help his high school friends in his hometown in his own district? Nothing.

    Let's ask The People of Jaynesville what really happened? Let's check the local papers from Jan/Feb 2008.

    September 4, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  2. ghostriter

    "....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."

    OK...I believe I asked where Obama promised anything. You quoted him saying that I believe......However, govt was not there to do anything. Especially since the plant was already slated for closure.

    September 4, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  3. streetlovely

    ryan was in congress, wasn't he? why didn't HE reopen the plant?

    September 4, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  4. Joseph B

    Dear Toby, The facts: Obama said "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 plant laid off over 2000 workers in the summer of 2008 – before Obama took office. The Bush government was not there to support this plant and give it the assistance necessary to make this transition. The plant was commissioned to be closed before Obama took office. As such, the workers should be mad at the Bush, Republican, Government for not supporting it.
    Ryan is leaving out key facts (that the plant was scheduled to be closed under Bush) and also lying. Though Ryan's ridiculous argument that the plant physically closed when Obama was president is technically true, the plant closed 14 months after Obama made his statement so not within a year as Ryan lies.
    As to other lies by Ryan, Ryan claimed he ran a marathon under 3 hours (his time was over 4 hours). Why would he lie about this? Because he is a habitual liar.

    September 4, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  5. John for Gainsville

    The moment that the Pres decided to bail out GM he took on this responsiblity. He shoudl have kept his mouth shut rather then make a promise or fill the local population with hope. Just another Obama lie and broken promise. We are no better off then we were 4 years ago. That's what matters. I'm voting for the first time Republican this year. We need business to succceed or we don't.

    September 4, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  6. James AL

    Steve, for your information, President Obama has fulfilled more of his campaign promises than any president in recent history. However, he made NO promise to the Wisconsin auto plant and if you remember correctly he did bail out the auto industry and demanded that they re-tool. Since he is not the CEO he could not tell them which plants to keep open and which ones to close.

    Lyin' Ryan went too far trying to make a good man bad, and the only thing he succeeded in was damaging his own credibility. Maybe he did not damage his credibilty he just revealed what was already there. He was in a 4 hour meeting on Obama's Inauguration Day planning how to topple the president, he has never been a honest broker on anything he did since that day.

    September 4, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  7. Cedar Rapids

    "Martin – @ghostriter -Obama's speech at that plant in 08, which is quoted in this article:
    "....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."
    As you can see, "this plant" is a direct reference to the Janesville plant where Obama was at when he gave the speech.
    Martin, can you tell us where in Obama's speech he promised to do.....well....anything related to that plant?"

    yep, and the question still remains.....where in there did he PROMISE anything? He stated a belief in what he thought would happen but not one single promise anywhere. Thank you for providing the evidence that proves our case.

    September 4, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  8. Manchurian Like a MoFo

    Promise? What promise. He said "I believe" not I promise. This guy is obviously a very good lawyer who knows how to say something without actually saying it. I'm just glad the administration, and to some extent, the media, has not let him get away with this one.

    September 4, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  9. tykl


    First, O was drawing it all back to the government, not the community/family. You are really taking liberties to try and prove your point. Your point is lost anyway since I don't have a single family member on either side of my family who has built a road, a bridge or a school. The fact is that he was tying everything back to the government – that is who he is.

    Second, ghostriter, maybe a quote would be appropriate instead of making baseless claims. So here is O's quote, "I believe that if our government is there to support you, and give the assistance you need to retool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another 100 years. So, that’s our priority… I want it to thrive right here in the United States of America, I want it to thrive right here in Janesville, Wisconsin. And that’s the future I will fight for as president of the United States of America." What I said was exactly right and what you said would fail an SAT reading comprehension passage. Sorry this is coming across as harsh, I am sure you are very nice and you write as such, but I am not attacking you, just the comments which are over the top wrong and keep getting injected into the media as if they were true.

    September 4, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  10. Reggie from LA

    Ya think when Ryan opened his mouth that he assumed that his bots would try to discern his "intent". NO!! He knew danged well what response he would get, and he did. They megaphone for him...except maybe the folks from his home town who know the truth. Bwahaha haha ha.

    September 4, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  11. Luke Brown

    If Ryan and his Tea Party buddies had not killed the President's jobs bill, maybe the plant would be open today. You cant deny Obama's efforts to restart the economy then blame him for not doing it.

    Get real. Ryan built a career off of being a Congressional staffer and then a congressman. He has been living off the taxpayers most of his life and has no idea what it is like to run a business. His wife is a Washington lobbyist for heaven's sake.

    September 4, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  12. James AL

    Lyin' Ryan knew in the summer of '08 that the plant was closing. The question should be what was he doing to try to keep his 'friends' a job? They were in his congressional district.

    September 4, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  13. Skunco

    Come on talk-talk (Ryan), you yourself say that goverment doesnt create jobs so Obama is off the hook. You get the Janesville plant open!

    September 4, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  14. Tammy

    Let's think about Ryan's statement; blaming Obama that the company wasn't up and running when Ryan/Romney said "LET THE AUTO INDUSTRY GO BANKRUPT, DON'T HELP THEM." I believe that is a doublle standard and I believe Paul Ryan lost a lot of credibility with the untruth's in his VP speech. Many people thought he might be different, a politician with some morals-guess not...

    September 4, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  15. Luke Brown

    PS Did anyone notice that among Lyin' Ryan's major lies was is failure to list his and his wife's income from a trust fund on his financial disclosure forms as a Member of Congress. That's kind of what Rangel did. Fortunately for our boy Ryan, when he heard he was being considered for Vice-President, he suddenly recalled that he didn't list it and quietly amended his disclosures when no one was paying attention.

    September 4, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  16. Lenny Pincus

    Really? Are there people that still believe what emanates from Ryan's mouth? How odd.

    September 4, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  17. Shared_gum

    And in other news, Obama fails to re-open Pan Am upon his election. Please...

    I guess that Ryan believes that Romney's vallet is so deep that no matter what he says, they will have enough ammunition to fight Obama and smear him. Yup, corporations are people, my friend...

    September 4, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  18. simp

    @ john form gainsville

    that lying ryan was in congress during the time why didn't he help that plant out? The President did not promise theim anything but if ryan wants to LIE about it what was his role in helping to save it?

    September 4, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  19. Dave

    So Ryan's complaint is what? That the government needed to intervene to keep the plant open?

    Ayn Rand would be disappointed in you, Paul.

    September 4, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  20. Nick G

    Let's face it: Ryan is a habitual liar. The facts are the facts and Ryan is 100% wrong. On top of that, while Obama had not even been elected at the time of the closing, Ryan was the Representative. What did he do? NOTHING. All mouth, all liar.

    Even Ryan's badmouthing of the Stimulous, which ended the recession and added 4 million jobs, is bogus. Funny that Ryan voted for a Bush stimulus, but that was ok...

    September 4, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  21. bettina

    Lying Ryan's defense on why Romney did not mention the war in Afghanistan, makes my blood boil. The two sentences that he uttered at the American Legion meeting is not acceptable. Both of them are not what I want representing our nation. It sickens me that they continue to lie in order to justify their empty rhetoric!

    September 4, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  22. Dave

    Ryan, like Romney and 99% of the rest of the Republicans, is lying through his teeth and he knows it. So does everyone else...

    September 4, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  23. WiseCentaur

    I'm pleasantly surprised that the media did some fact-checking and held Ryan accountable for his lies, hypocrisy, and gross distortions. He has truly earned the nickname Lyin' Ryan. And you know Mitt Romney approved Ryan's speech beforehand, so Romney is responsible for endorsing those lies.

    If you're sick and tired of politicians lying to us, then here's a wild idea: Don't let them get away with it and don't reward their lies with your vote.

    September 4, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
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