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Eric Fehrnstrom Defends Paul Ryan's Misleading Assertions In Convention Speech

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TAMPA, Fla. -- Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) much-anticipated speech Wednesday night had the usual bromides and warm, biographical details typically found in remarks at political conventions.

It also had several demonstrably misleading assertions.

For example, Ryan said that while campaigning for president in 2008, Barack Obama said a General Motors plant in Janesville, Wis., would not shut down.

"That plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day. And that’s how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight," Ryan said.

The plant did end up closing -- in December 2008. When George W. Bush was president. The decision to close the plant was made in June 2008.

Eric Fehrnstrom, a senior adviser to Mitt Romney's campaign, defended the vice presidential candidate's remarks in an interview with CNN's "Starting Point" on Tuesday.

"[H]e didn’t talk about Obama closing the plant, he said candidate Obama went there in 2008 and what he said was with government assistance, we can keep this plant open for another 100 years," argued Fehrnstrom. "Here are we are four years into his administration; that plant is still closed. I think it's a symbol of the recovery that hasn't materialized for the people of Janesville, Wis., just as it hasn't materialized for Americans everywhere."

When Obama visited the plant in February 2008, he said, "I believe if our government is there to support you, and give you the assistance you need to retool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another hundred years."

Ryan also has shifted his rhetoric slightly when talking about the GM plant, allowing him to mince his words while arguing that he's not technically inaccurate.

Earlier this month, Ryan was a bit less careful, saying, "I remember President Obama visiting it when he was first running, saying he'll keep that plant open. One more broken promise."

CNN John Berman also asked Fehrnstrom on Thursday why Ryan blasted Obama for the failure of the Simpson-Bowles debt commission -- when the congressman was one of the Republicans who voted against the commission's recommendations.

"He created a bipartisan debt commission," said Ryan in his speech Wednesday. "They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing. Republicans stepped up with good-faith reforms and solutions equal to the problems. How did the president respond? By doing nothing -- nothing except to dodge and demagogue the issue."

"[Ryan] stood in the way of the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission, and then criticized the president for not taking action on it," noted Berman.

Fehrnstrom argued that the point was irrelevant, since Ryan later put out his own budget plan.

"There can be disagreements about how to reduce the deficit and how to put the budget on a path to fiscal balance. The important thing is, what is your plan? He brought it forward," replied Fehrnstrom.

Watch the full video below:

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