Nightly News | August 17, 2012
>>> the news broke a week ago tonight that mitt romney had chosen wisconsin congressman paul ryan as his running mate trusti in thrusting ryan and his record into the national spotlight. tonight ryan is on the defensive over whether he asked for millions in stimulus money despite voting against president obama 's stimulus package while calling it wasteful spending. nbc's ron mott is on the trail for us tonight in arlington, virginia. ron , good evening.
>> reporter: hey, lester. good evening to you. a week of fending off attacks on his vision for medicare, paul ryan is now responding to renewed accusations of engaging in political double speak.
>> to be really clear, we have got to stop spending money we don't have.
>> reporter: paul ryan has been among the harshest critics of president obama 's 2009 stimulus package voting against the $787 billion program that passed with democratic majorities on capitol hill . he dubbed it a wasteful spending spree. some republican governors like louisiana's bobby jindal and rick perry of texas refused to accept tit. now chair of the house budget committee ryan has denied seeking those same funds for his home state of wisconsin . once during a boston radio call-in show two years ago --
>> no i'm not one of those people who votes for something and then writes to the government to ask them to send us money . i did not request any stimulus money.
>> reporter: again just two days ago. you had asked for stimulus money for your district. is that report accurate?
>> i never asked for stimulus. i don't recall asking --
>> reporter: hours after the campaign said his staff not the congressman had sent letters to the secretaries of labor and energy with his signature. today ryan clarified even more. in a statement he said, after having these letters called to my attention i checked into them and they were treated as constituent service requests. they should have been handled differently and i take responsibility for that. regardless, it's clear that the obama stimulus did nothing to stimulate the economy, and now the president is asking to do it all over again. one wisconsin nonprofit he helped got more than $20 million in stimulus money. in virginia he dealt with heckling over the discrepancy. democrats were quick to exploit the apparent contradictions.
>> he said he was asking for those funds for a project in his district because they would create jobs. and then out of the other side of his mouth he says the reason he opposed the stimulus is because it did nothing and didn't create any jobs.
>> reporter: ryan tried to get back on the attack.
>> he has run out of ideas and that, unfortunately, is why this campaign that he's waging is one based on frustration and anger. hope and change has become attack and blame.
>> reporter: now the sniping between the two campaigns was even put in writing today. the obama campaign urged mitt romney to release five years' worth of his tax returns and in return they promised to stop criticizing him for not releasing any more than that. the response from the romney camp, thanks but no thanks. incidentally, just tonight, lester, paul ryan released his past two tax returns .
>> all right. ron mott for us tonight, thanks.