In an interview on The Today Show Tuesday morning, Republican vice-presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said criticism about his anecdote about a plant that closed before Barack Obama became president has been misplaced, and that he wasn’t trying to blame Obama for the facility shutting down.
“That is not what I was saying. Read the speech,” Ryan told host Matt Lauer. “What I was saying is, the President ought to be held to account for his broken promises. After our plant was shut down, he said that he would lead an effort to retool plants like the Janesville [Wisconsin] plant, to get people back to work. It’s still idle. People are still not working. Lots of people I grew up with who lost their jobs, still don’t have those jobs there. So my point was not to lay blame on a plant shutdown. It was, this is yet another example of the president’s broken promises.”
Ryan invoked the Janesville plant for the second time during his nomination speech at last week’s Republican National Convention, saying that during a campaign visit in 2008, Obama said that “if our government is there to support you,” the plant would be there for another hundred years.
Washington Post timeline of the plant’s shutdown shows that General Motors’ decision to close the facility started in June 2008, with most production stopping on Dec. 23 of that year. The final vehicle was produced on the lot on April 21, 2009, by which time its fate had been sealed.
Ryan’s remarks Tuesday hewed closer to the Associated Press’ record of Obama’s speech in October 2008. However, the Council on Foreign Relations’ account of the speech has Obama saying, “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.”