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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

In Interview Blitz, Ryan Plays Defense and Offense


GREENVILLE, N.C. - With Mitt Romney keeping a low profile this week, Representative Paul D. Ryan is the face of the Republican ticket, and on Tuesday he blitzed all three morning network television shows, pressing the attack against President Obama days before he is renominated at the Democratic National Convention.

Mr. Ryan was asked to defend controversial statements in his acceptance speech last week at the Republican convention and to explain why neither he nor Mr. Romney mentioned Afghanistan form the stage in Tampa, Fla.

Mr. Ryan rejected a suggestion the omission was disrespectful to the 2,000 Americans dead in the war, or that Mr. Romney had an obligation to lay out his plans as a potential commander-in-chief. Mr. Ryan pointed out that Mr. Romney spoke of the war to the American Legion the same week.

“I talked about our veterans and what they've done for our country,'' he said on “CBS This Morning.” “We're so thankful for what they've done. We believe if we have a strong national defense, peace through strength doctrine, that will help us tremendously.''

Mr. Ryan repeated that Mr. Romney supports the president's drawdown of Americans in combat roles by the end of 2014.

“We will have to do an assessment of Afganhistan immediately after taking office to see what the post-2014 posture looks like.''

Mr. Ryan was asked why he blamed Mr. Obama for failing to help a General Motors plant in Wisconsin, even though the plant largely shut down before the president took office.

“The promise is that he was going to open the plant, the promise is that he was going to lead an effort to retool the plant and people would go back to work and it would be open for another 100 years,'' he replied on NBC's “Today” show. “The point is he filled people with all this hope as he travelled around the country running for president, making grandiose statements and promise which are just not true.''

The Obama campaign responded that Mr. Obama never specifically promised to keep the Janesville plant open, although he did say while campaigning that he would work to “retool” similar plants for more efficient cars.

“The truth is that had Mitt Romney had his way and we had ‘let Detroit go bankrupt,' plants like the one in Janesville would have closed all across the country,'' Danny Kanner, an Obama spokesman, said in a statement. “Instead, the President bet on the American worker and rescued the auto industry.''

Mr. Ryan was also asked about Democratic charges that the Republican ticket's plan to cut taxes by 20 percent and make up for lost revenues through loophole-closing would mean a $2,000 tax increase for middle-class families. That was the finding of a non-partisan tax research group.

Mr. Ryan said other groups showed it is possible to eliminate tax breaks and still reduce rates for everyone. He said lower tax rates will pay for themselves by spurring the economy. “Economic growth is the key to this, and one of the keys to economic growth is tax reform,'' Mr. Ryan said on ABC's “Good Morning America.”

“And when we keep taxing our families and successful small businesses at much higher tax rates than our foreign competitors tax theirs, you make our businesses less competitive,'' he added. “We don't think we should be taxing small businesses and families more to spend the money in Washington. It hasn't worked, it won't work and we think we have better solutions.”

All three interviews were shot back-to-back in a conference room of Mr. Ryan's hotel in North Carolina. He left soon afterward fo r a busy cross-country campaign swing taking him to Ohio, Iowa and Colorado. Mr. Romney, meanwhile, left his vacation home in New Hampshire for a two-hour drive to Vermont, where he planned an improntu campaign stop, according to a pool report.