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Paul Ryan Defends General Motors Claim: The Plant Is 'Still Idle'

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(Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages)
(Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages)

GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan insisted Thursday that it was fair to blame President Barack Obama for the closure of an automobile plant, despite numerous reports after his Wednesday speech that the story was false.

"It's still idle. The point is, this is a story of the Obama economy," Ryan told CNN's Wolf Blitzer of his claim that Obama was to blame for the closure of a General Motors plant in Janesville, Wis. "A man running for president in 2008 making all of these grand promises and then none of them occurring. He got elected, he put his policies in place, and the plant still shut down."

Nonetheless, Ryan implicitly acknowledged that his statement Wednesday night was incorrect: The decision to shut down the plant happened before Obama was elected, let alone became president.

Blitzer pointed out that it was General Motors that made the decision to shut down the plant, which Ryan agreed was true. Still, Ryan said the eventual closure reflected Obama's economic record.

"I'm not saying it was his decision," Ryan said. "I'm saying he comes and makes these promises, makes these commitments, sells people on the notion that he's going to do all of these great achievements, and then none of them occur."

"These are empty promises that become broken promises, and that's the story of the Obama economy," he added.

The General Motors claim was one of several misleading statements in Ryan's speech, the first after his nomination as the GOP's vice presidential candidate.

Blitzer pointed out that Ryan's statement on the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan was also misleading. On Wednesday night, Ryan had said the president came up with no deficit reduction plan and rejected efforts by others. In fact, the president did offer such a plan, and Ryan was among many lawmakers who voted against Simpson-Bowles.

"In the next paragraph of my speech, I said we offered an alternative," Ryan told Blitzer. "If you don't like this idea, then offer your own, that's what I did in the House. ... President Obama said, 'I don't like this plan,' and offered nothing in return."

The Romney campaign defended Ryan's remarks about the General Motors plant as well, saying the attack was fair game because of Obama's remark that he would "retool" such plants.

"It's President Obama who needs to explain his words," said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Ryan, in an email to HuffPost. "The facts are clear: when the GM plant went on standby, the president told the people of Wisconsin he would ‘lead an effort to retool’ it and restart production. But when the bailout's winners and losers were decided, Janesville ended up losing. The people of Wisconsin, like so many Americans, are still waiting for the president's imaginary recovery."

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