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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ryan Admits Misstating Marathon Time


Representative Paul D. Ryan has taken back his claim that he had run a marathon in under three hours, an assertion that had drawn great skepticism in the running community and one that came after his convention speech faced scrutiny for some questionable and misleading statements.

Mr. Ryan issued a statement that was published over the weekend by The New Yorker magazine and Runners' World clarifying his marathon performance:

“The race was more than 20 years ago, but my brother Tobin - who ran Boston last year - reminds me that he is the owner of the fastest marathon in the family and has never himself ran a sub-three. If I were to do any rounding, it would certainly be to four hours, not three. He gave me a good ribbing over this at dinner tonight.”

In the interview with the radio host Hugh Hewitt last week, Mr. Ryan was asked what were some of his best times in marathons, and he replied, “Under three, high twos. I had a two hour and fifty-something.”

Mr. Ryan is known for his dedicated physical fitness regimen. But as serious runners know, a marathon run under three hours is quite a feat, and requires a pace of under 7 miles a minute for the whole race, as The Los Angeles Times pointed out.

Mormon Says Romneys Are Leading Church Into Mainstream


BOSTON â€" With Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, looking on, a prominent member of the Mormon church, J.W. Marriott Jr., told his congregation on Sunday that the Romneys were helping to lead the church “out of obscurity” and into the mainstream.

“There has never been as much positive attention to the church, thanks to the wonderful campaign of Mitt Romney and his family,” Mr. Marriott said during services in Wolfeboro, N.H., where the Romneys are spending the Labor Day weekend.

Mr. Marriott, who is the son of the founder of the Marriott hotel chain, reached into his past, recalling a story that showed how public perception of the church seemed to be shifting.

It was the mid-'90s, Mr. Ma rriott said, and the church had reluctantly agreed to participate in a “60 Minutes” segment with Mike Wallace.

“Didn't want to do it,” Mr. Marriott said, according to a pool report distributed to other news organizations. “Salt Lake encouraged me to do it. And I remember returning to my office, and there sitting in my office chair was Mike Wallace. And I was given a hard-back chair and Mike said, ‘You sit there.' ”

Then came the question about underwear.

“Of course the one question that they put on the air was, ‘I understand Mormons wear different underwear?' and I said yes, and he says, ‘Do you?' ”

Mr. Marriott replied that he did wear the undergarments and that they were really not that much different than a T-shirt and a pair of boxer shorts â€" except perhaps in one fundamental respect.

He told Mr. Wallace about a time he was involved in a serious boating accident and had been wearing the s pecial undergarments. “I caught fire; my polyester pants had burned off all the way to my waist. But my undergarments from my waist down to my knees had not even been singed,” he said he told Mr. Wallace. “And I said, ‘These holy undergarments saved my life.' ”

Mr. Marriott said that later, Mr. Wallace provided him a tape of the interview. When he finally listened to it, he said, he had only a spotty recollection of what he had said.

“I was obviously influenced by the spirit in some of my comments and remarks.”

Now, a decade and a half later, the church is starting to receive more positive attention in the news media, he told the congregation.

“So today we see the church coming out of obscurity, and we see that 90 percent of what has been written and said, including an hour on NBC and two â€" an hour and a half on CNN. Two front-page articles in The Washington Post, many articles in the national news, about the church â€" 90 percent of it has been favorable.”

He added, “And that's a great tribute to Mitt and Ann and their family for living such an exemplary life.”

Another churchgoer, who was not identified in the pool report, rose and told the congregation, “Never in my life did I think I would ever see as I'm watching the RNC â€" I would never see a Catholic get up and say that a Mormon is just as good as any Catholic.”

Parties Do Some Convention Spin on Sunday Talk Shows


WASHINGTON - It would probably be safe to say, based on the reviews of the Republican convention offered Sunday by some of President Obama's top advisers, that the gloves are official off as Democrats look forward to their own turn on the convention stage in Charlotte.

“I don't think we've ever seen a presidential campaign â€" ever - that's built on a foundation of absolute lies,” David Plouffe, a senior White House adviser, said of the Romney campaign, “and I think ultimately they're going to pay a price for it.” He was speaking Sunday on ABC's “This Week.”

Mr. Plouffe accused the Romney team of lying about Obama administration cuts to Medicare (aides to the president say cuts would come from savings and not affect benefits for the elderly), lying about a change in welfare policy that Mr. Romney's backers say would end a work requirement (the administration flatly denies this), and distorting the president's “You didn't build that” comment (he was arguing that government-financed infrastructure supports every company). Most independent fact-checkers support the Democrats' interpretations on these issues.

Mr. Plouffe also called it a “huge omission” for Mitt Romney to have failed to mention the war in Afghanistan, or those fighting in it, in his 37-minute acceptance speech Thursday in Tampa, Fla. He called that “an amazing thing for someone who wants to be, 66 days from now, elected as our commander in chief.”

It apparently was the first time in decades that a presidential candidate, in a convention speech, had failed to mention an ongoing war.

Eric Fehrnstrom, a senior adviser to Mr. Romney, was asked about that on CNN's “State of the Union.” He noted that Mr. Romney had addressed the war, and his support for the military, a day earlier in a major speech to an American Legion group in Indianapolis.

“Governor Romney's convention speech was an opportunity for him to introduce himself to millions of voters,” Mr. Fehrnstrom said, adding that “he accomplished what he set out to do, which was to talk about his better vision for America,” to critique the Obama presidency and to provide a fuller personal portrait of himself.

“We thought that speech was a home run,” Mr. Fehrnstrom said.

The president's advisers, not surprisingly, did not share that view.

David Axelrod, Mr. Obama's senior campaign strategist, said he did not see the Republicans getting any real bounce from their storm-shortened convention.

Several opinion surveys showed at least a small upward movement; Nate Silver, the polling analyst whose work appears on T he New York Times's site, Nate Silver, said that the convention produced a “modest” bounce in the polls.

Mr. Axelrod, brushing off the Tampa convention as full of “snarky attacks and bromides for the base,” added, “I think the race is exactly where it was before they walked in, and now it's our turn.” While the polls may be close, he added on “Fox News Sunday,” “I'd much rather be us than them.”

But Mr. Fehrnstrom suggested that voters will continue to keep a firm focus on one thing: the lagging economy.

“I think the biggest news next week will not be the three nights of the Democrats' convention, but will be on Friday, when we hear again about the monthly jobs report.”

He added, “We're all hoping for good news, but the odds are high that unemployment will remain above 8 percent.”

For those not inclined to fast-forward to Friday, another senior Obama adviser, Robert Gibbs, offered a preview of the Democrats' conven tion in Charlotte.

He said that Mr. Obama would not duck uncomfortable realities but would “acknowledge that we live in incredibly tough economic times” and would talk not just about himself and Mr. Romney but “about the 300 million people that live in America.”

Mr. Gibbs added, “He's going to focus on how we move this country forward, laying out plans for strengthening the security of the middle class, investing in research and innovation, paying down our debt responsibly, and honoring those who serve overseas.”