By Erik Wasson - 08/30/12 02:14 PM EDT
TAMPA, Fla. — President Obama’s reelection campaign is making a major push Thursday to paint GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan as dishonest in the aftermath of his rousing convention address.
They’re also using the speech — a big hit with the GOP audience in Tampa, Fla. — in a new fundraising effort.
“There is no delicate way to put this: last night Paul Ryan lied,” deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said Thurdsay morning at pess conference near the GOP convention.
In the fundraising plea, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina hit Ryan for blaming Obama for the shuttering of an auto plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wis., that closed while President George W. Bush was in office.
The Obama campaign also argues Ryan misled voters by criticizing Obama for not embracing the Bowles-Simpson deficit-reduction plan when Ryan voted against legislation that was based on it.
The Mitt Romney campaign has said the top priority for the speech was to present Ryan as an honest broker telling hard deficit truths to the public; the Obama message is a frontal assault on that effort.
“If you've seen any coverage of Paul Ryan's speech in Tampa, you know that the consensus among journalists and independent observers is that it was ... factually challenged,” Messina wrote.
“He lied about Medicare. He lied about the Recovery Act. He lied about the deficit and debt. He even dishonestly attacked Barack Obama for the closing of a GM plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wis. — a plant that closed in December 2008 under George W. Bush,” Messina wrote.
In his speech, Ryan linked Obama to a shuttered GM plant in his House district.
“Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said, 'I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.' That’s what he said in 2008. Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day," Ryan said.
The Obama camp is pointing out that the plant closed later in 2008, before Obama took office.
“The fact that this speech, on this huge stage, is this blatantly false represents a huge bet by the Romney campaign — they've decided that facts, truth and reality will not be a brake on their campaign message,” Messina’s pitch concludes. “The only thing that can beat this back is you.”
The Romney campaign on Thursday defended Ryan’s comments on the GM plant, noting it remains on standby. They say Obama has failed to live up to promises that would lead to production restarting.
Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom acknowledged Ryan’s vote against Bowles-Simpson in an interview on CNN Thursday but said Ryan then offered his own credible deficit plan, something Obama failed to do. Democrats are noting that Obama later offered a plan based on the Bowles-Simpson approach.
On Medicare, Ryan’s speech pledged to preserve Medicare but did not delve into the gritty details of the Ryan-Romney approach to the program, which would partially privatize it, Democrats are pointing out.
Future seniors would be given the option of purchasing private insurance with government subsidies. The 2011 Ryan version of the plan, which did not keep traditional Medicare as an option, would cost seniors an average $6,400 more out of pocket per year, analysts estimate.
Ryan attacked Obama for cutting Medicare by more than $700 billion to pay for healthcare reform, but did not make clear that the cuts come from payments to healthcare providers rather than benefits. He also did not mention that his own budget counts the same savings.
— This story was updated 11:30 a.m. and 1:25 p.m.