A seemingly routine interview with WJRT in Flint, Michigan was abruptly ended after GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan and his team got frustrated with the interviewer’s attempt to “stuff words in people’s mouths.” The interview had already run over when Ryan and company shut it down, according to a campaign spokesperson.
The video interview began innocently enough, with a few questions about gun laws in the United States.
“What we’ve learned – if we just put more gun laws in place, it doesn’t actually stop criminals from getting guns and committing these crimes,” Ryan said. “This is why we need economic growth, this is why we need education reform.”
Ryan also argued that the nation needs to be focused on solving the “problems of civil society.”
“Does this country have a gun problem?” the interviewer asked.
“This country has a crime problem,” Ryan replied.
“Not a gun problem?” the interviewer asked again.
Ryan went on to explain that not even President Obama is talking about implementing more gun laws. He said the country’s existing laws just need to be enforced.
“The best thing to help prevent violent crime in the inner cities is to bring opportunity in the inner cities. Is to help teach people good discipline, good character. That is civil society. That is what charities and civic groups and churches do to help one another make sure that they can realize the value in one another,” Ryan said.
“And you can do all that by cutting taxes? With a big tax cut?” the reporter asked out of nowhere.
“Those are your words not mine,” Ryan shot back.
Immediately after the “tax cut” question, someone off camera interrupts the interview and Ryan gets up from his chair and begins taking off his microphone. He then looked to his interviewer and said, “That was kind of strange. You trying to stuff words in people’s mouths?”
The local reporter does his best to defend himself, however, his speech is rather inaudible as he tries to assemble a sentence. “I don’t know if that’s strange,” he said.
To be sure, though he was obviously annoyed by the strange and random question, Ryan did not lose his temper or become hostile in any way.
Watch the interview here:
Romney spokesman Brendan Buck later provided the following statement about the incident to BuzzFeed:
The reporter knew he was already well over the allotted time for the interview when he decided to ask a weird question relating gun violence to tax cuts. Ryan responded as anyone would in such a strange situation. When you do nearly 200 interviews in a couple months, eventually you’re going to see a local reporter embarrass himself.
The Obama campaign tried, unsuccessfully, to argue that Ryan “brought his temper” to Michigan. It is clear in the video that Ryan does not lose his temper or even raise his voice.
“Congressman Ryan brought both his temper and penchant for dishonesty to Michigan today,” campaign spokesman Danny Kanner said in a press release. “After walking out of a local interview when he was pressed about Mitt Romney’s tax plan, Ryan told supporters that Romney knows we need a strong auto industry, but Romney would have just ‘let Detroit go bankrupt.’”
Additionally, WJRT, the local ABC affiliate who conducted the interview, appears to have removed the interview from its website. The link that BuzzFeed provides to WJRT’s story results in an error message and a search of the site turns up no results for the interview with Ryan.
This story has been updated.