Ryan: ‘I Just Don’t Understand’ Obama’s Bayonet Comment

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File photo of US Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan. (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of US Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan. (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan says he didn’t understand a comment made by President Barack Obama in regards to bayonets and horses during a heated discussion on military spending.

Obama took a mocking tone during the Monday night foreign policy debate after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, while criticizing the administration’s Pentagon budget, said disapprovingly that the U.S. Navy has fewer ships than at any time since the end of World War I.

“I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works. You mentioned the Navy, for example, that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916,” he said. “Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military has changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them.”

He added, “[This] … is not a game of ‘Battleship.'”

During an interview with Norah O’Donnell on “CBS This Morning,” Ryan was asked about the president’s words.

“To compare modern American battleships and Navy with bayonets … I just don’t understand that comparison,” he said. “We have to have a strong Navy to keep peace and prosperity and sea lanes open.”

Ryan also took the opportunity to further criticize Obama’s military spending proposals.

“[I]f all these defense cuts go through, our Navy will be smaller than it was before World War I. That’s not acceptable,” he told CBS News. “And, yes, the … the ocean hasn’t shrunk. You still have to have enough ships to have a footprint that you need to keep sea lanes open, to keep our strength abroad where it needs to be.”

Monday night’s showdown, held at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., marked the third time in less than a week that the president and his challenger shared a stage, following the feisty 90-minute town-hall-style meeting last Tuesday on Long Island and a white-tie charity dinner two night later where gracious compliments flowed and barbs dipped in humor flew.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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