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. Tmadz

    I still don't see how this is a win for the Republicans in any way. If the plant was slated to close and closed in 2008, then Ryans a liar. Are Repubs saying that Obama promised to the plan topen? I didn't hear that in his speech, only that gov't should be working with businesses to offer incentives to retool, but then isn't that policy making "Big Gov't" bigger? Isn't that what the Republicans are aginast? Keepoing gov't out of business? I don't see a win either way.

    September 4, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  2. You're Playing Right Into His Hands

    By focusing on whether or not Obama actually made promises and whether or not the Janesville plant closed down in 2008 or 2009 and whether or not Ryan is a liar, the media is playing right into Ryan's hands. This is what liars and lying liars do best. They keep everyone talking about their little lies so that they are focused on the inconsequential details rather than the big picture. If everyone is focused on whether or not the minutiae are correct, then they are not focused on the fact the Romney policy would have been to LET DETROIT GO BANKRUPT. Ryan and the lying liars win because everyone is focused on the little plant in Janesville and not on the fact that Romney said LET DETROIT GO BANKRUPT.

    So don't let the little lies get you all tied in knots. That is what the Republicans and Ryan want. The liars keep you focused on the stupid crap on purpose. That is the whole idea.

    Don't miss the forest for the trees, people. The media should be smart enough not to play into Ryan's hand.

    The Romney policy was: LET DETROIT GO BANKRUPT.

    September 4, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  3. Paganini

    Where I'm from that's called "lying by omission". That's weak... and you're a sketchy character, Mr. Paul Ryan.

    September 4, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  4. maine liberal

    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.

    Isnt the GOP mantra "government cant create jobs only business" now they blame government. which is it

    September 4, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  5. Tmadz

    To follow up my previous comment. If the stimulus was used to retool the Janesville plant, wouldn't that be big gov't taking over and telling business what to do? And the Republicans are upset that Obama didn't do this?

    September 4, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  6. Roger

    I think this charlaton is perfecting the art of lying. I don't know how he can look in a mirror without his nose growing. I, too am from Texas and I know that my vote for President Obama will be meaningless in this bastion of conservatism. The only way it would count was if we truly had a democratic system and the President was elected by the popular vote rather than this antiquated electoral system.

    September 4, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  7. Barbwire

    v_mag – no better said – I really wish the whole electorial college would change – your vote should count, but unless we can reach others then yesTexas will go red.

    September 4, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  8. Grumpy

    This is just more evidence that Romney/Ryan aren't going to lead us out of this economic mess that GOP itself caused. They don't even understand what's happened. It all stated forty years ago when another Republican, Richard Nixon, opened the doors to China to help his big corporate friends sell in China. Of course, since the market was in USA, not China, they switched around to produce in China and sell in USA. The rest is history, and plant closures here is where all led to. No, Ryan, Obama is not at fault, you and you boss are.

    September 4, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  9. ghostriter

    Martin, can you tell us where in Obama's speech he promised to do.....well....anything related to that plant?

    September 4, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  10. pccel

    Ryan is obviously a very articulate and glib speaker; he may think that all his talking points are going to be accepted at face value, but he's in the big leagues now; every word he speaks will be scrutinized. If he doesn't know something he just needs to say that he'll check into the item and get back with an answer. His problem is that he is very cocky and is probably not used to having to say he doesn't know something. His answer about his marathon (or marathons as he stated) was hilarious....anyone who has run a marathon has their time engraved on the brain...yes, even 20 years later. He needs to stop "fudging" the truth.

    September 4, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  11. cf

    Ryan, why didn't YOU save the plant. It was in your state, and you always say you want "state's rights" and the federal government out of private business!

    September 4, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  12. Robin

    Ryan wasn't worried enough when Bush Lite was POTUS to go to him and say "Lets help out these auto plants in the mid-west and save millions of jobs". He voted for every expensive, unpaid for benefit right up until Obama was elected and then became a "conservative". If we get "govt out of our lives" doesn't that include reproductive rights? Repubs were bragging about those "purple fingers" following the Iraq elections and now they try to block Americans votes from counting! Shame!!!

    September 4, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    This guy has a problem with lying. And this is supposed to be the NO. 2 guy? He lies about the GM closing, he lies about his position on Simpson-Bowles, he lies about his position on abortion, he lies about his position on the deficit and he lies about his marathon abilities. Perhaps he's just a habitual liar. Certainly not a quality you look for in a vp or a potential president.

    September 4, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  14. jack johnson

    The Republicans still believe that if you keep telling a lie "WE THE PEOPLE" will believe it!!!!!

    September 4, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  15. JayK

    Why doesn't someone ask Romney about KB Toys....?

    September 4, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  16. VVVVVV

    lol... Politifact is saying the plant shut down before Obama took office which isn't true. Somebody needs to fack check the fact checking sites.

    September 4, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  17. Keef

    I'm *SO* confused!

    Maybe they're telling me something I'm too dumb to understand? Yep, that's gotta be it.

    Um, that makes me a Republican, right????

    Oh, well. I can always just vote for the white guy.

    That's safe, right?? Helloooo? Am I right???

    September 4, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  18. Loida

    the truth is .....corporate greed why we lost millions of jobs!!!!! Thanks to Bush administration. And thanks to President Obama he save this country not to become a 3rd World ...I am much better off having a President who CARES !!!!

    September 4, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  19. Pander Bear

    And what did YOU do to help keep the plant from closing? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

    September 4, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  20. akismet-9df6b7b5d2ab3088ed7273b34ba0edb5

    Even in his defense of his own words, Paul Ryan is again lying. Ryan absolutely made it sound like Obama was to blame for the plant closure, and Obama did NOT promise to re-open it. Obama clearly said it could be reopened if government helped.

    But government did not help with a transition to clean energy jobs, because the Republicans, led by Paul Ryan, fought and continue to fight against any new government spending to create the clean energy jobs our country needs to stay competitive.

    You don't get to say Obama failed because government didn't do enough when you're the person standing in the way of government doing anything at all.

    September 4, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  21. Pander Bear

    Love how he's demanding that everyone go back and understand his claim in context after a 5 day convention bashing the President on a deliberate misinterpretation of a claim taken out of context.

    September 4, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  22. Mike J.

    Lies, obfuscations of fact, and deliberate re-construction of history are almost all that I hearfrom the GOP these days. I wonder what sort of mental gymnastics Romney and Ryan have to do on a daily basis just to be able to look at themselves in the mirror. When they do, do they like the Man each sees? Are they happy with the glaringly apparents tweaks, twists and turns of whatever moral compass they once possessed that they have made to get into office? If they have any regrets, then maybe there is Hope? However, I suspect that their regrets, if any, were short-lived and they are just fine with the outrageous amount of Lies they have told. I say that with some conviction because they just keep doing, apparently without compunction. Therefore, I will not vote for their ticket and I will encourage my family to not vote for it, either.

    September 4, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  23. Jack

    So Ryan, just like the kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar, keeps lying to cover his lie. I hope Lyin' Ryan has gone to Confession and received Absolution, the good Catholic boy he is.

    September 4, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  24. Name CR

    Ryan ans Romney have no shame, they lie to the AMERICAN people with a straight face.

    September 4, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  25. indyreader

    Ryan's defense is weak. His speechwriters are pros at weasel-wording every utterance to within an inch of its life – so you can't decide precisely what it DOES mean,... but reading his exact words, the only sane inference one can draw is that he was implying that the auto plant closed because of Obama's administration. Funny thing is, Rmoney's gone to pains to say he WOULDN'T have bailed out the auto industry, which means that not only this one plant, but many others that did't quite end up shutting down, WOULD have shut down if he'd had his way.
    Lovely tactic they have there. Fudge the precise facts to make Obama sound bad, all the while hoping no one remembers that the Repubs' policies would have been far worse.
    Both plans should have to stand on their own. Rmoney hasn't given enough details to give anyone an idea whether it will or not – he's basically saying the same abstract patriotic-sounding, emotionally-appealing but ultimately divisive "take back OUR country" rhetoric and hamming home only that he's not Obama, while Obama can honestly say exactly what he has been saying – that the economy isn't improving as fast as anyone wants, but it IS still steadily improving, and if the Guaranteed Obstructionist Partisans would focus on doing what's right for EVERYONE and work WITH everyone else, it might start to improve faster.
    Sadly, understanding that idea requires not thinking in overly simplistic black-and-white terms, and it seems the GOP isn't going broke banking on the thickheadedness of its constituency.

    September 4, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
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