WASHINGTON -- Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Sunday that he had made a mistake last week in asserting that senior military leaders did not support the Pentagon budget request made by President Barack Obama.
"The military is a little offended by your words," Candy Crowley told him on CNN's "State of the Union."
"I really misspoke, to be candid with you, Candy. I didn't mean to make that kind of an impression," Ryan replied. "So I was clumsy in how I was describing the point I was trying to make."
Last week, Ryan, the author of the House GOP's proposed federal budget that passed the lower chamber Thursday on a party-line vote, had said he did not necessarily believe that military leaders were behind the $525 billion Defense Department budget proposed by the president for fiscal 2013. That proposal would be down from a $530 billion enacted budget for 2012.
"We don't think the generals are giving us their true advice," Ryan had said, according to Politico. "We don't think the generals believe their budget is really the right budget."
Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, took issue with those comments.
"There’s a difference between having someone say they don't believe what you said versus ... calling us, collectively, liars," the general told reporters on Thursday, according to the Wall Street Journal. "My response is: I stand by my testimony. This was very much a strategy-driven process to which we mapped the budget."
Ryan said Sunday that what he had been trying to say was that the administration had prioritized achieving a certain budget number over providing the funds to accommodate the correct military strategy.
"General Dempsey and I spoke after that, and I wanted to give that to him, which was that's not what I was attempting to say," Ryan said on CNN. "What I was attempting to say is that President Obama put out his budget number for the Pentagon first ... and then they began the strategy review to conform the budget to meet that number. We think it should have been the other way around."
Ryan also addressed the 2012 GOP primary race, just a few days after he had endorsed Mitt Romney for president and two days before his home state holds its primary.
"I think so," he said when asked whether the race would be over if Wisconsin goes to Romney. "If Mitt wins Wisconsin ... he gets a big delegate [haul], which I think he'll get. Then we believe, as conservatives, that we should coalesce around one candidate."