In network interviews on Thursday evening, Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan defended a number of claims he made in his convention acceptance speech, including his contention that President Obama broke a promise by not keeping open a General Motors plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wis.
Multiple news organizations and fact checkers have ruled the claim factually false because the plant closed before Obama took office, but Ryan stood by what he said in his Wednesday night speech.
"I’m not saying it was his decision. I’m saying he came and made these promises, makes these commitments, sells people on the notion that he’s going to do all these great achievements, and then none of them occur,” Ryan said in an interview on CNN. “These are empty promises that become broken promises, and that’s the story of the Obama economy."
Obama gave an economic address at the Janesville plant in February 2008 in which he said he would fight for the future of that plant and others. With government support to transition to making other types of vehicles, he said, the plant could be around another 100 years.
“Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year," Ryan said in his convention speech. "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.”
GM announced plans to close the facility in June 2008. It shut down that Dec. 23 and Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009.
Ryan also pinned on Obama responsibility for the decision by Standard & Poor’s to downgrade the U.S. credit rating last summer in the midst of a bitter debate over raising the debt ceiling. The agency said it changed its assumption about U.S. credit because “the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues.”
Asked about that by CBS News’ Scott Pelley, Ryan said he saw it differently. “They basically said because of the lack of leadership in Washington, political leadership, that's the downgrade. What did House Republicans do? House Republicans passed a plan to actually fix this debt crisis and get this budget balanced and the debt paid off,” said Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee.
Ryan demonstrated the depth of the rift between the president and House Republicans by revealing that he hasn’t spoken to Obama since last summer, when the debt-ceiling fight took place.