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POLS UPDATE #2: We’ve found several news reports specific on the claim that Rep. Paul Ryan has climbed “40 out of 53″ (or 54 depending on the criteria used) of Colorado’s “fourteeners,” peaks higher than 14,000 feet high: here’s one from the Denver newspaper, and one from 5280 Magazine. And don’t forget former Colorado Senate President John Andrews’ recent column titled “Paul Ryan, mountain man” enthusiastically celebrating Rep. Ryan having climbed “40 of the state’s 54 peaks over 14,000 feet.”
The claim appears to originate in a 2009 interview of Rep. Ryan by Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, who updates that story today after the somewhat ambiguously-worded quote in question drew “media attention.”
Question: “How many fourteeners have you climbed? Or how many times?”
Ryan: “38. I think that’s my last count.”
Question: “Those are just climbing peaks that are 14,000 feet?”
Ryan: “I’ve done it 38 times. … I’ve done 38, but I think the number of unique peaks is something like twenty… no, no it’s like thirty or something like that. I counted it up a year or two ago.” [Pols emphasis]
Question: “Most of those in Colorado?”
Ryan: “All of them are in Colorado. So I think I’ve climbed like 28 (peaks), and I’ve done it 38 times, because I’ve done a number of them a few times. So I was, you know, kind of into that stuff.”
It would be easier if Ryan had, you know, picked a number and stuck with it, but there’s no question he claims to have climbed a whole lot of Colorado fourteeners.
POLS UPDATE: With the story apparently blowing up nationally, the Romney-Ryan campaign responds via The Atlantic’s James Fellows. Do you buy this explanation? Developing…
We’re not sure where this started, but he’s not said 40 different peaks, its nearly 40 climbs [Pols emphasis] – with a number of peaks climbed more than once. He’s been doing them for more than 20 years. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article from ’09 doesn’t say 40 separate summits, but instead “He is fairly careful about what he eats, performs an intense cross-training routine known as P90X most mornings, and has made close to 40 climbs of Colorado’s “Fourteeners” (14,000-foot peaks).”
ProgressNow Colorado political director Alan Franklin on the summit of Pikes Peak yesterday. Click here for a high resolution photo.
ProgressNow Colorado producer Jen Caltrider on the summit of Pikes Peak yesterday. Click here for a high resolution photo.
Lying about running a marathon in under three hours, when your actual time is over four hours, is bad enough. But lie to Coloradans about how many fourteeners you’ve climbed and you’re crossing a line–and not just the tree line.
Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan claims to have climbed 40 of Colorado’s 53 fourteeners.
We think he might have done some of his patented “Paul Ryan Math” on that number. Tomorrow Paul Ryan heads to Colorado Springs in the shadow of Colorado’s most famous fourteener, Pikes Peak, and Coloradans deserve to know the real sum of his summits.
As questions grow about Paul Ryan’s truthfulness on a wide range of issues, we’re calling on Ryan to prove his claim of having climbed 40 of Colorado’s 53 fourteeners. And we’re asking you to send pictures of empty chairs (see photos) on the summits of Colorado mountain peaks to help us illustrate Ryan’s questionable claims.
Send your photo to email@example.com. We’ll share them with the press and our thousands of members across the state.
Coloradans take a lot of pride in our fourteeners. We prefer the thin air of our tallest peaks to the hot air of lying politicians. A few days ago, Paul Ryan was forced to correct his boast of having run marathons in under three hours.  The truth is, Ryan only ran in one marathon, and it took him over four hours. What about Ryan’s claim to have climbed 40 of Colorado’s 53 fourteeners? Is that another patented Paul Ryan lie?
Last week at the Republican National Convention, Ryan gave an acceptance speech that has been widely criticized as factually inaccurate. Demonstrably false statements about Medicare, the 2011 battle over raising the federal “debt ceiling,” and the closing of a General Motors assembly plant, among others, have raised serious questions about Ryan’s honesty. 
After embracing lie after lie at the Republican National Convention last week, and then being forced to retract wildly exaggerated claims about his performance as a marathon runner, Colorado voters deserve to know the truth about Ryan’s climbing record in our state. We’re calling for Ryan to release photos, summit logs, and any other evidence he has to back up his claim that he climbed 40 of our state’s highest mountains–or come clean with Colorado that he’s lying about his “peak bagger” record too.
Send your photo with Paul Ryan’s “empty chair” on a Colorado peak to firstname.lastname@example.org. And thanks for asking for something better than the usual politician dishonesty.