The chairman of the Democratic Party in California walked back his statements comparing Rep. Paul Ryan to a Nazi propagandist on Monday, shortly before emceeing an event ahead of the Democratic National Convention.
In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, John Burton said Ryan's convention speech last week contained fabrications that amounted to a "bold-faced lie."
"They lie and they don't care if people think they lie ... Joseph Goebbels -- it's the big lie, you keep repeating it - a bold-faced lie and he doesn't care that it was a lie. That was Goebbels, the big lie," Burton said Monday before a breakfast for the California delegation in Charlotte, North Carolina.
A close partner of Adolf Hitler, Goebbels held a top leadership position in the Third Reich, where he was largely in charge of designing propaganda and anti-Semitic messaging for the party.
Burton on Monday was primarily referring to a line in Ryan's speech that appeared to place blame on President Barack Obama for the closure of a General Motors plant in Janesville, Wisconsin.
During his first bid for president, Obama spoke to the plant's autoworkers at a campaign rally in February 2008. In Ryan's speech last week at the GOP convention, the vice presidential nominee quoted Obama as saying, "If our government is there to support you ... this plant will be here for another hundred years."
Ryan, however, concluded: "That plant didn't last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day."
Critics quickly jumped on the statement, and a number of fact-checkers, including CNN, said his comment wasn't completely accurate. While it's true the factory closed during Obama's first year in office, the decision to do so occurred in summer 2008, before he was elected to the presidency.
On Monday, the California Democratic chairman blasted Ryan for the statement, saying "He lied on something that was just, like, right there. And what that says is, you don't tell the truth."
The state's Republican Party wasted no time firing off a statement disparaging Burton for making the comments Monday.
"This is exactly the kind of desperate, deranged rhetoric the Democrats are going to employ in order to distract voters from their failed record over the past four years," the statement read. "While Republicans are offering voters real solutions and bold choices, Democrats sound like they'll be resorting to personal attacks and insults."
Responding to the flurry late Monday afternoon, Burton issued a statement to "correct" the reports.
"To correct press reports of my recent comments about Republican lies, I did not call Republicans Nazis nor would I ever. In fact, I didn't even use the word," he said in a statement. "If Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, or the Republicans are insulted by my describing their campaign tactic as the big lie -- I most humbly apologize to them or anyone who might have been offended by that comment."
The dust-up occurred one day after the California delegation made news on another front. A delegate was asked to step aside Sunday from his position as a voting delegate at this week's convention after an incident with police at a Charlotte hotel.