President Obama to Bob Woodward: 'Mistake' to Dress Down Paul Ryan to His Face in Budget Speech


Woodward writes that the "spotlights in his eyes" prevented the president from immediately noticing that Ryan was in the audience, though he was seated in the front row.

Bob Woodward's 17th book, "The Price of Politics," documents how President Barack Obama and congressional leaders responded to the economic crisis. The book is on sale Sept. 11, 2012.

Ryan thought it was a planned attack, and he was incensed. Ryan rushed out of the room even as Gene Sperling, a top Obama economic aide, tried to stop him to explain that the speech "wasn't a setup," Woodward writes.

"I can't believe you poisoned the well like that," Ryan told him.

Back at the Capitol, Ryan denounced the speech as "excessively partisan, dramatically inaccurate, and hopelessly inadequate to address our fiscal crisis." He said he was "very disappointed in the president," adding that he thought his invitation was an "olive branch."

"What we heard today was not fiscal leadership from our commander-in-chief; we heard a political broadside from our campaigner-in-chief," he said in a statement.

Ryan was an offstage player in much of the brinksmanship around the debt ceiling last summer. He wasn't in the direct negotiations handled for House Republicans primarily by House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

But Boehner, Cantor and others in the room were very aware of Ryan's viewpoints as potential compromises were floated and rejected. At one point, after The New York Times reported a possible "grand bargain" that included $1 trillion in new revenues, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on Ryan's Budget Committee, appealed to Ryan to go along, according to Woodward.

"The window is already shut," Ryan replied. "It just isn't going to fly."

Last month, shortly after Ryan was named to Mitt Romney's ticket, White House aides have told reporters that Cantor cited Ryan's political concerns in explaining to the president why a "grand bargain" wouldn't be feasible. Cantor said Ryan was concerned that the deal would "guarantee the president's reelection," a senior administration official told ABC's Jake Tapper.

Woodward's book includes no such details, though Obama did tell Woodward that prominent Republicans did express concern to him about a deal helping him politically. He did not name those individuals.

Woodward told ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer that it's not accurate to suggest that Ryan scuttled a "grand bargain." Cantor's opposition – driven by the large tea party contingent in his caucus – was more critical, he said.

"I think Cantor is the center of this resistance to the deal," Woodward told Sawyer.

Ryan wound up voting for the eleventh hour deal to avoid a debt default, along with 173 of his House GOP colleagues. That pact called for automatic defense cuts, among other steps, to take place at the end of this year if other cuts aren't agreed to before then, though he has attacked the concept of those cuts on the campaign trail in recent weeks.

Despite his vote for the final bill, Ryan over the weekend attacked the president for insisting on Defense cuts to be enacted without a congressional agreement framed by the so-called "supercommittee." Woodward's book reveals that the Defense piece was inserted into negotiations by the White House.

"The devastating defense cuts that are now coming due were insisted upon by the Obama administration so they would not have to face another debt ceiling increase before the election," Ryan said on CBS yesterday. "If you go back and read Bob Woodward's book, the reason the defense cuts are in the sequester as they are was at the insistence of the Obama administration."

Click here to purchase an advance copy of Bob Woodward's new book "The Price of Politics" on sale Sept. 11, 2012

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