Ryan renews defense of GM plant claim
September 4th, 2012
09:12 AM ET
11 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. sonny chapman

    Mitt only needs to tell the VFW his war plans. It would have been "messy" to mention those plans at the Repub. Convention. True political gamesmanship. P.S.- Did Mitt tell the VFW why none of his FIVE Sons weren't serving in the Military ?

    September 4, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  2. Jack from Illinois

    It's apparently quite easy to spot when Ryan is lying. It's when he's moving his lips.

    It's also easy to spot when he knows he's been caught lying – he redoubles the lie by simply repeating it, more loudly and shrilly, and insisting that he's correct, even when it's obvious that he's not.

    September 4, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  3. duh

    Of course it's President Obama's fault that he didn't re-open a plant he had no control over nor was responsible for shutting down... why WOULDN'T it be his fault??

    September 4, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  4. w l jones

    We do not have Kings in this country.

    September 4, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  5. chris s

    It's shuttered to this day because the manufacturer had already decided to shut the plant down and move it's operations back when GW was still the Prez!! Another blatant lie from the treasonous "party above country" GOP.

    September 4, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  6. Jeffrey

    Sorry Paul! You lied...again...and were caught...again. Now you are trying to twist your words to mean something else. We know what you meant by your speech. That is very clear.

    September 4, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  7. peakprofit

    What did Ryan think the retooled plant was going to produce? Four Wheel Drive Obamamobiles? How can one person be held responsible for the decisions of General Motors? Obama made the comment in February, and was elected in November. Between his comment and the day he took office, GM made the decision to shut down the plant. Those are the facts of the matter.

    As for his invitation to read the speech, I have. So have a number of fact checking organizations. All agree that he did, indeed, make the false claim. Apparently, the Fox News faithful can be counted upon to simply listen to his claim of "I didn't say that" as opposed to thinking for themselves.

    September 4, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  8. The Other Dale

    Ryan really needs to re-read his own speech. If Obama was not responsible for the closing of the plant – as he states here – then how is he responsible for it closing – as he also states here? He calls it a "broken promise," but all Obama said was (according to Ryan himself) is "if the government can back you up, then you'll stay here." Obama didn't say, "if I say so, you'll be here," he put it in the lap of government, as it should be (if he had stated otherwise, Republicans would have been all over him for acting like he controlled everything, and we all know they didn't have a chance to do that here). As it stood, the government, with Ryan apart of it, made sure the plant closed. This is Ryan's mistake, not Obama's, and him continuing to push it only points out not only how weak his argument is, but that he's the one that caused people to lose jobs, not Obama.

    September 4, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  9. pffft

    "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."
    Not even close to what he said. Nice try Ryan.

    September 4, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  10. coy4one

    How can anyone listen to Romney and Ryan when both said that the auto industry should go into bankruptcy? Now all of a sudden they are flip-flopping so that they can make Obama look bad about one factory that was determined to close before Obama was President. Just goes to show that the GOP will flip-flop and say anything to try a get a few more votes. Sad!

    September 4, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  11. DJH

    I watched his guy (blather again) this morning on GMA. He's one of those "don't confuse me with the facts" Republicans. While he's shaking your hand he's using the other to pick your pocket. I've been a Republican for over 45 years....and this guy and Mitt bring nothing to the table. The obstructionism by the Republicans during the Obama Administration has been deplorable. I will vote for another 4 years of Obama.

    September 4, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  12. Lar5

    Unbelievable. Ryan is becoming more pathetic day after day. He seems to wake up in the morning and decides what lie to tell. He's just a shameless hack.

    September 4, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  13. FrankinSD

    Mr. Ryan hasn't seemed to notice that his pants are on fire.

    September 4, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  14. Al

    Please... I watched that speech and there is simply no doubt as to what Ryan was trying to say. Now that he's gotten flack for it (among MANY other inaccuracies in that speech) he's trying to squirm out of his own words. It's absolutely shameful. If you can't stand by it three days alter then don't say it at all.

    September 4, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  15. Thomas

    Did he say he ran in a marathon and didn't ?

    Its just a small Lie !

    September 4, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  16. Mike

    Ryan was misleading, and has demonstrated that he is a liar. I'm an independent, and continue to be blown away by the garbage that comes out of the GOP. The President has done a good job keeping this country from complete disorder. We were close to a depression, and in California we are still in bad shape.

    September 4, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  17. PikeRover

    I have just one question Congressman Ryan.... What did you do to keep the plant open?

    September 4, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  18. Darlis

    Mr. lRyan, if you say it often enough you might convince yourself you didn't lie.... but you lied, in spirit and in reality.. sounds just as good as that race time you made up too... guess we'll need to factcheck everything you say, just as we do Mr. Romney.. birds of a feather.. lie together..

    September 4, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  19. Mike in Wisconsin

    Us Wisconsinites know all about Lyin' Ryan!. Ryan wants less government, yet he attempts to blame government (Obama) for the GM Janesville plant closing!

    September 4, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  20. Freedom

    Wow, GOP bashing president for not saving auto industry?

    September 4, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  21. chris

    Read the speech? Yeah, he should read it himself. The promise wasn't to reopen it, it was that the gov't would support reopening it – big difference. Should the gov't have purchesed the plant to operate it? Of course not. Did the President break a promise? Maybe...maybe not. We don't know.

    September 4, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  22. Bud Luigi

    "...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."

    Obama, a socialist, is to blame because he nationalized the auto industry and failed to re-open a car plant. Ohh, wait, isnt Ryan a Republican who preached that small government should stay out of job creators way and let companies (people too, ya know) decide how best to employ its workforce.

    I guess when it comes to bringing home the bacon to his home state, government intervention is fine,e xcept when it interferes with the party line.

    September 4, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  23. phoenix86

    So Obama is lying. What else is new?

    September 4, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  24. Marcia Greenwood, IN

    I listened to the speech and it was clearly Ryan's intention to blame the President -the men at the plant called him on it and said that Ryan was also resonsible for canceling the funds for their retraining-GM made the decision-and when Obama became President the whole economy and whole car industry was crashing and was saved. Note: a 2 sentence acknowedgment of a war does not describe a policy.Romney is short of specifics and Ryan's entire speech has been debunked as lie, after lie, after lie, after lie,after lie.

    September 4, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  25. No you di'int

    Wait, what? Lyin' Ryan says Obama should have used his powers as President to force that plant to reopen? But, but, but - wouldn't that be government interference in private industry? Wouldn't that be big government crushing the will of the "job creators"? Wouldn't that be - GASP – socialism?

    September 4, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
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