10/16/2012 04:14 pm ET

Paul Ryan, Lacking Policy Specifics, Claims 'People Are Reassured When Political Leaders Are Being Specific'

WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have refused to release specifics on their tax plan, particularly when it comes to which deductions and loopholes they would close in order to pay for the proposed tax cuts. That task, they have argued, should be left up to Congress. Ryan, for example, said last month that he and Romney didn't want to be too specific and preempt what lawmakers may want to do; instead, they believed it was best to present a "framework."

But before Romney tapped him to be his vice presidential running mate, Ryan was extolling specificity from politicians as a moral imperative.

In an interview with Mike Gousha of WISN-TV in February, Ryan dismissed consultants who urge politicians to "play it safe" and avoid specifics. He said offering specifics was "morally the right thing to do."

"I think it’s good politics, because I think people are reassured when political leaders are being specific and bold, because they are people of conviction. They're not just telling them what they want to hear, like a weathervane," he said, adding, "They don't want to be pandered to like children. And, in this country, people can do basic math."

Yet Ryan didn't seem quite as sure of the public's math skills during an Oct. 1 interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday.

When pressed for specifics on the Republican ticket's tax plan, Ryan declined to oblige, saying, "It would take me too long to go through all of the math."

He later told Wisconsin radio host Charlie Sykes that he had thought people would get bored and start changing the channel if he had gotten into the details.

Watch video of Ryan's comments in February and more recently above.

But before joining the GOP ticket, Ryan was known for being very specific in his policy proposals. He offered up his budget blueprints that would dramatically change Medicare and Social Security, which in turn became a tool for Democrats to campaign against in congressional districts around the country. Ryan's fellow conservatives often praised him for his "courage" in being so specific.

In February, Gousha specifically asked Ryan whether the GOP could be hurt politically by some comments Romney had made -- that he was "not concerned about the very poor" -- because it would make the Republican Party seem like it was just "defending the rich."

"All the more reason to be specific with the country about what is our recipe for getting the American idea rekindled," Ryan replied.

Ryan's spokesman did not return a request for comment.

Some Republicans, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), have criticized the Romney campaign for being too cautious and urged it to have more of Ryan "rub off" on the former Massachusetts governor.


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