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Bob Woodward: Obama regrets earlier attack on 'Jack Ryan'

September 10, 2012|By Morgan Little
  • Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan pauses while speaking at WestPac Restorations in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan pauses while speaking… (Bryan Oller / AP Photo )

In an interview with Bob Woodward earlier this year, President Obama admitted that his much-publicized castigation of Paul Ryan’s budget proposals was a “mistake,” according to audio transcripts released prior to the Tuesday release of Woodward’s new book, “The Price of Politics."

Perhaps even worse than his dismissal of Ryan’s budget, which flew right in the face of the Wisconsin congressman who was in attendance for the April 2011 speech, was Obama’s mention of “Jack Ryan” instead of “Paul Ryan” in referring to the soon-to-be vice presidential candidate.

“I’ll go ahead and say it – I think that I was not aware when I gave that speech that Jack Ryan was going to be sitting right there,” Obama told Woodward on July 11, exactly a month before Mitt Romney trumpeted Ryan as his running mate.

Jack Ryan, to note, is the name of both a prominent character in several Tom Clancy novels, as well as the Illinois Republican Senate candidate who would have faced Obama in 2006 had he not dropped out of the race.

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“And so I did feel, in retrospect, had I known – we literally didn’t know he was going to be there until – or I didn’t know, until I arrived,” he added. “I might have modified some of it so that we would leave more negotiations open, because I do think that they felt like we were trying to embarrass him. We made a mistake.”

During the speech at George Washington University, Obama declared that Ryan’s recently released “Path to Prosperity” was “less about reducing the deficit than it is about changing the basic social compact in America.”

Ryan, who Woodward said attended under the belief that Obama would reach out to Republicans over the looming debt ceiling battle, left the event soon after, telling Obama economic aide Gene Sperling that he couldn’t believe the president had “poisoned the well like that.”

Obama and Ryan haven’t had the most amicable of relationships in the past, with their series of clashes playing a role in Romney’s decision to choose Ryan as his vice presidential candidate.

As for “The Price of Politics,” Politics Now’s own David Lauter will review the book Tuesday for the Los Angeles Times.

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morgan.little@latimes.com

Twitter: @mlittledc

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