Paul Ryan Has Made 'Close to 40 Climbs,' Not 'Climbed Close to 40 Peaks'

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I have done this as an update to the original item, but for emphasis I'll do it as a stand-alone new item too.

According to an email I received just now from Brendan Buck of the Romney campaign, Paul Ryan did not say that he had climbed "close to 40" of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks. He was careful to say that he had made "close to 40" climbs. Here is the note:

Hey James - caught your entertaining piece.  Unfortunately, you've got some bad info in there. We're not sure where this started, but he's not said 40 different peaks, its nearly 40 climbs - 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)."

Apparently many listeners may have missed the distinction. For instance, last month an item in the Denver Post said:

[Democratic Congressman Ed] Perlmutter praised Ryan for being physically fit, saying "good for him" for climbing 40 of Colorado's 54 fourteeners -- mountain peaks 14,000 feet or higher.

And a supportive op-ed by a prominent conservative in the Denver Post made this claim last week, without evidence of Ryan or the Romney campaign correcting them:

Add to this the hard-charging congressman's love for the Colorado high country (he has climbed 40 of the state's 54 peaks over 14,000 feet) and you have the most potentially transformative VP selection since President William McKinley put Theodore Roosevelt on the ticket in 1900. (Not the genteel Roosevelt, squire of Hyde Park, but his "strenuous life" cousin who ranched in Dakota and hunted bear in Glenwood Springs.)

But for the record, "40 climbs" rather than "40 peaks" is the official view. Thanks to Buck for responding.

Extra update. Buck supplies this transcript from a recent event in Colorado, in which Ryan didn't say he had climbed 40 different peaks:

REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (R-WI): Good morning! (Applause.)
Man, it is nice to be here. We ought to just have Madison (sp) speak some more. Wasn't she fantastic? (Cheers, applause.) Gee. Aw. Makes you feel confident about our future when we have bright young people like this that we're raising in our communities, doesn't it? (Cheers, applause.)
You know, it's great to be here in Colorado. I was actually planning on being here in Colorado this week --
 
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah!
 
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah!
 
REP. RYAN: -- only on my family vacation. (Chuckles.)
(Laughter.) You see, my family's over in one of our great national forests here in Colorado while we speak. We come here every summer. I've been climbing fourteeners for over 20 years here in this great state. (Cheers, applause.) I have such great memories of jumping in our family station wagon in Janesville, Wisconsin, going down I-80 to I-70 and coming out here and enjoying the beautiful Rocky Mountains you have here, busting my back on moguls -- (laughter) -- fishing for brookies and rainbow --
 
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah!
 
REP. RYAN: -- and climbing these great peaks you have. This is one of the most beautiful states in the country. (Cheers, applause.) It's a big -- it's an awesome place.
You have a big responsibility, and in one of the big responsibilities you have, you have to elect Joe Coors to Congress. (Cheers, applause.)

Bonus geography points to those who notice what else is strange in the description in this passage. (Congrats to reader JG, of Arkansas, who pointed it out.)

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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