Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan said Tuesday that critics of his speech at last week’s convention have mischaracterized remarks he made about President Obama and the General Motors plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wis.
“What they are trying to suggest is that I said Barack Obama was responsible for the plant shutdown in Janesville,” Ryan said on NBC’s “Today.” “That is not what I was saying; read the speech. What I was saying is the president ought to be held to account for his broken promises. After our plant was shut down, he said that he would lead an effort to retool plants like the Janesville plant to get people back to work. It’s still idle.”
But in his speech, Ryan knocked Obama for statements he made before being elected president and before the plant shut down. He did not mention anything Obama said as president about getting people back to work after the plant closed.
“Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: ‘I believe that if our government is there to support you, this plant will be here for another hundred years.’ That’s what he said in 2008,” Ryan said in his speech at the Republican National Convention, referring to remarks Obama delivered in February 2008. “Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day.”
Most operations at the Janesville General Motors plant ended in December 2008, after Obama’s visit to the factory but before his inauguration.
“In my opinion,” “Today” host Matt Lauer told Ryan, “it seemed like you were unmistakably trying to link the president’s promise with the closing of that plant, which you know, obviously, closed before he became president.”
“The promise was that he was going to open the plant,” Ryan replied. “The promise was that he was going to lead an effort to retool the plant, so that people would go back to work, so that it would be open for another hundred years, he said.”
In a separate TV appearance on Tuesday, Ryan hit Obama for a more recent remark: the president’s self assessment Monday that he deserves an “incomplete” grade for his first-term handling of the economy.
“Four years into a presidency and it’s incomplete?” Ryan said on CBS’s “This Morning.” “The president is asking people just to be patient with him. The kind of recession we had, we should be bouncing out of it, creating jobs. We’re not creating jobs at near the pace we could.”Callum Borchers can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.