Paul Ryan Accuses Reporter of 'Trying to Stuff Words Into People's Mouths' After Gotcha Question

As the GOP candidate for vice president in the November 6 national election, Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan is interviewed by dozens of local and national reporters every day, and most of the discussions are straightforward and informative.

However, one conversation on Monday led Ryan to observe that the last question from Terry Camp, a reporter from WJRT-TV, ABC 12 in Flint, Michigan, was "kind of strange. You're trying to stuff words in people's mouths."

Camp did not try to deny Ryan's accusation other than to say: "Well, I don't know if it's strange."

During his report on the interview, Camp said it "ended badly" and trotted out the usual liberal canard that the candidate was "not specific in his answers." That segment included the reporter asking what the Ryan campaign called a "weird question" connecting gun violence to tax cuts.

The incident began when Camp asked Ryan if the U.S., like Flint, has a gun problem. The Republican responded that the nation "has a crime problem."

The reporter again pressed Ryan about gun violence, and the candidate stated: "If  you take a look at the gun laws we have, I don't think even President Obama is proposing more gun laws."

"We have good, strong gun laws," he noted. "We h ave lots of laws that aren't being properly enforced."

The best thing to help prevent violent crime in the inner cities is to bring opportunities to the inner cities, is to help people get out of poverty in the inner cities and teach people good discipline, good character.

That is civil society. That's what charities and civic groups and churches do to help one another make sure that they can realize the value of one another.

Camp then asked: "And you can do that all by cutting taxes? With a big tax cut?"

"Those are your words, not mine," Ryan replied.

At that point, Ryan spokesman Michael Steel ended the interview by stepping in front of the camera and saying: "Thank you very much, sir."

The GOP candidate then stood up and removed the microphone clipped to his lapel, but the camera continuing rolling and recorded the final exchange between Ryan and Camp.

Initially, the Michigan channel posted the entire report and footage on  its website, but the video has since been removed. Another version of the clip can be seen below:

In an article on the encounter under the lifeless headline "Paul Ryan spars with reporter," Juana Summers of the Politico website referred to the incident as an "animated exchange" and questioned whether the candidate had ended the interview prematurely.

A Ryan aide told Politico that the discussion had already surpassed the five minutes allotted for Camp's interview, which was scheduled to be the last event with local reporters while the Wisconsin Republican was visiting a school in the Detroit area.

Soon after, Obama campaign spokesman Danny Kanner used the exchange to criticize Ryan's trip.

"Congressman Ryan brought both his temper and penchant for dishonesty to Michigan today," Kanner stated before accusing the GOP candidate of "walking out of a local interview when he was pressed about Mitt Romney's tax plan."

The clash also drew a response from Ed Morrissey at hotair.com, who stated that the reporter had misrepresented the incident in two different ways:

First, Ryan was providing responsive answers to the gun questions. Camp was asking broad, philosophical questions, not specific questions on proposals or individual laws, and Ryan was providing philosophical answers.

Second, Camp says at the beginning of the clip that the interview ended badly when Camp tried to connect gun violence to tax cuts, and Ryan and his team called him out for it while the cameras were still running.

After watching the video myself, I have to say that Ryan, who has done approximately 200 interviews in the past two months, didn't appear to be angry. Instead, he seemed a bit baffled by the odd assertion combining gun control and tax proposals.

As it stands, Camp's question has to be one of the most bizarre queries the GOP candidate has faced during his grueling campaign schedule, but there's still about a month to go and plenty of reporters armed with "gotcha" questions along the way.

Randy Hall
Randy Hall