Paul Ryan returns to Colorado as group questions whether he climbed nearly forty 14ers
Update below: Paul Ryan is just a regular outdoorsy guy who likes to climb mountains. At least that's the image Ryan presented in one of his first rallies as the vice presidential candidate for the Republican Party -- in a speech last month at Lakewood High School where he mentioned his love of Colorado's 14ers.
Big photos below.
He's back in the state today with a rally this morning in Colorado Springs, and before he brags again about conquering the Rocky Mountains, one advocacy group wants proof.
Yesterday, the left-leaning ProgressNow Colorado sent out a press release titled "Did 'Lyin' Ryan' Really Climb Forty Colorado Fourteeners?"
Accompanying the release are photos like this one of hikers on top of mountains next to empty chairs (what else?) -- holding signs saying, "I climbed a 14'er with Paul Ryan."
The 42-year-old congressman from Wisconsin has gotten a fair amount of attention for his workout routine -- and, more recently, for misstating his marathon record by more than an hour. He also has come under fire for taking some "factual shortcuts," as the Associated Press said, in his Republican National Convention speech in Tampa.
Courtesy of ProgressNow Colorado Image of a Colorado hiker and an empty chair.
Democrats and Obama supporters portray Ryan as an untrustworthy candidate prone to lying or misleading, while his campaign and Republican supporters continue to defend his comments and brush aside the marathon comments as a minor memory lapse.
To have climbed forty and not be a resident means that you would have had to devote entire summers to climbing fourteeners, in essence becoming a "lifestyle" hiker/scrambler. I doubt Ryan had the time or dedication to fourteeners to take the required time out from his political career. Even if you did four a summer, that would be ten summers devoted to traveling to Colorado for the purpose of high altitude hiking. Even if you live here and can drive to the trail heads, forty is a huge commitment of time and energy.
A 2009 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article says that Ryan "has made close to forty climbs of Colorado's 'Fourteeners' (14,000-foot peaks)." (A Romney official tells the Atlantic that "he's not said forty different peaks, its nearly forty climbs -- with a number of peaks climbed more than once. He's been doing them for more than twenty years.")
Regardless of all this back and forth, ProgressNow is asking for proof as Ryan prepares to speak at 10:10 a.m. today at WestPac Restorations, 765 Aviation Way in Colorado Springs -- a location not far from Pikes Peak.
Sam Levin Paul Ryan in Lakewood last month.
Continue for comments from ProgressNow's director and for more photos.