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Romney Aides Defend Ryan on GM, Medicare, Debt-Commission Claims Romney Aides Defend Ryan on GM, Medicare, Debt-Commission Claims

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Conventions 2012

Romney Aides Defend Ryan on GM, Medicare, Debt-Commission Claims

Top advisers for Mitt Romney on Thursday defended some of Paul Ryan's questioned claims in his convention speech about Medicare, a shuttered General Motors plant in Wisconsin and a failed debt-reduction commission.

Ryan's assertions have come under sharp attack from the Obama campaign, which put out a video refuting them. Multiple fact-checking media outlets, including National Journal, have found the assertions to be inaccurate or misleading. Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter was even more harsh, saying on MSNBC: "There's no delicate way to put this, but he lied."


Eric Fehrnstrom, speaking on CNN’s Starting Point, said that a Ryan suggestion that President Obama had a hand in shutting down a GM plant in Wisconsin – GM announced in June 2008 that the plant would close -- was indeed, factual. The fact-checking website PolitiFact, however, labeled it "false."

“He didn't talk about Obama closing the plant,” he said. “He said that candidate Obama went there in 2008, and what he said was, with government assistance, we can keep this plant open for another hundred years.” He said the plant is a “symbol” of the lack of economic recovery in the U.S.

Appearing on MSNBC's Daily Rundown, Romney aide Kevin Madden said: "It is a question of how to bring back the economy overall, so plants like that one can see the economic growth in the community so they can thrive and grow. That's, again, another important distinction we'll have [with Obama]."


Fehrnstrom also defended a claim by Ryan about Obama’s role in the failed Simpson-Bowles Debt Commission. Ryan said in his speech said the president “did exactly nothing,” although many have noted that the House Budget Committee chairman opposed the plan as a commission member because he said it didn't address growing health care spending.

Fehrnstrom said that Ryan came back with his own plan: “There can be disagreements on how to reduce the deficit and how to put the budget on a fiscal balance. But the important thing is, what is your plan? And Paul Ryan had a plan. He brought it forward. There's an obligation on the part of people in Congress if they reject Simpson-Bowles to talk about what they will put in its place. Paul Ryan did that.”

Madden also defended Ryan's claim that Obama "funneled" $716 billion out of Medicare -- a statement PolitiFact said was "highly misleading" and labeled "Mostly False." Democrats have noted that Ryan's own budget sought to use the same savings.

"What we have now is a debate about the role of government and how to bring back the economy, how to get people care, access, bring down costs," Madden said. "What the president did was take the $716 billion, raided the Medicare trust fund and spent it on a new entitlement. Paul Ryan put it back into strengthening it."


Asked whether the disputes over such claims just feed voters' cynicism,  Madden said he's confident voters will pay more attention to what Romney and Ryan say on the campaign trail.

"A lot the arguments we have in 30-second sound bites are difficult," he said. "When Governor Romney and Paul Ryan go out and talk in broader terms about what it is about how to bring back the economy, what they would do to help a plant like that in Janesville, Wisconsin, actually come back, start hiring and growing again. That's what the American public will watch closely, versus looking at the 30-second sound bite wars we have."

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