Chris Van Hollen Spins Erskine Bowles Comments

Representative Chris Van Hollen appeared on Greta Van Sustren's show Thursday to discuss the selection of Paul Ryan on the Republican ticket. As the interview progressed, Greta asked Van Hollen about the video clip in which Erskine Bowles praises Ryan. Van Hollen then misrepresented what Bowles said in the clip to make it sound as if he were praising Ryan's personality not his budget:

VAN SUSTEREN: I suppose you have seen the video passed around where Erskine Bowles is praising, last August, Paul Ryan and his budget plan and his earnest -- I don't know -- that he wants to fix things.

VAN HOLLEN: What Erskine did he praised Paul Ryan as a person of integrity. He did not praise his budget plan. I think anyone should ask Erskine today that question -- in fact, Erskine Bowles and Allen Simpson issued a statement about the Ryan plan, and they said it lacked the balance that was at the heart of Simpson-Bowles. And they have specifically said that the president's plan has that kind of balance and Mitt Romney's plan does not. That's what they have said as recently as a few weeks ago.

Van Hollen's characterization of Bowles is inaccurate. Here's what Bowles actually said:

Have any of you met Paul Ryan? We should get him to come to the university. I’m telling you this guy is amazing, uh. I always thought that I was OK with arithmetic, but this guy can run circles around me. And, he is honest. He is straightforward. He is sincere.

And, the budget that he came forward with is just like Paul Ryan. It is a sensible, straightforward, serious budget and it cut the budget deficit by $4 trillion…just like we did.

There was never any question that Bowles and Ryan differed on how to approach deficit reduction. Ryan did not ultimately vote to support the plan Bowles put forward. However, Bowles description of Ryan and his budget as "sensible" and "serious" certainly put a crimp in the style of Obama's campaign which, from the moment he was selected, tried to paint him as extremist. Chris Van Hollen is clearly trying to shift what Bowles said to make it sound purely personal, but that is not accurate. Bowles never endorsed the policy content of Ryan's budget but he did endorse it as a sensible, serious


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