Vice-presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) backpedaled Monday from a claim in his Republican National Convention speech that President Barack Obama was responsible for the closure of a General Motors plant that in fact closed during the presidency of George W. Bush.
"What they are trying to suggest is that I said Barack Obama was responsible for the plant shutdown in Janesville. That is not what I was saying, read the speech," he told NBC's "Today." "What I was saying is the president ought to be held to account for his broken promises. After the plant was shut down he said he would lead efforts to restore the plant. It’s still idle."
But Ryan appeared to be blaming Obama for the closure of the plant, located in his hometown of Janesville, Wis., in his speech:
"My home state voted for President Obama," he said Wednesday. "When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of it, especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory."
"A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant," Ryan said. "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. Well, as it turned out, 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."
Obama did not promise to keep the plant open. He said that with government help, the plant could remain open.
"And I believe that if our government is there to support you, and give you the assistance you need to re-tool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another hundred years," Obama said on Feb. 13, 2008 in Janesville. "The question is not whether a clean energy economy is in our future, it’s where it will thrive. I want it to thrive right here in the United States of America; right here in Wisconsin; and that's the future I'll fight for as your president."
The plant effectively shut down on December 23, 2008 -- almost a month before Obama took office.