Former George W. Bush strategist Matthew Dowd slammed Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan on Sunday, taking issue with the facts presented in his General Motors plant story.
In an interview with ABC's "This Week," Dowd admitted that Ryan's argument "so stretched the truth," pointing to the current congressman's claim that the Janesville, Wis. factory closed under President Barack Obama's watch.
"I like Paul Ryan, [and] have a lot of great respect for Paul Ryan," Dowd said. "But the elements that he said about closing the GM plant which closed before Barack Obama took [office], about the Simpson-Bowles bill which he opposed and then all of a sudden he faults Barack Obama for. At some point, the truth should matter. He was trying to convey that Barack Obama was responsible for the closing of that GM plant and that isn’t true."
During his Republican National Convention speech last Wednesday, Ryan charged that President Obama's first term was an economic failure, citing the GM closure as a primary example.
"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,'" Ryan said. "That’s what he said in 2008."
"Well, as it turned out, that plant didn't last another year," he continued. "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's words underwent heavy scrutiny. The plant laid off more than 2,000 workers in December 2008, ending SUV production at the tail end of President George W. Bush's second term. While a few dozen workers stayed on until vehicle production was fully phased out in April 2009, Ryan's remarks sparked ridicule from several media sources.
The congressman defended his GM claim the following day in a CNN interview, arguing that his words painted a fair picture.
"It's still idle," Ryan said. "The point is, this is a story of the Obama economy. 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."
CORRECTION: A previous version of this post stated that the Janesville, Wis. GM plant closed in December 2008. The piece has been updated to note that more than 2,000 GM workers were laid off immediately, while another few dozen stayed on until April 2009.
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