Oops: Rob Portman Got Mt. McKinley History Wrong While Slamming Obama

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August 31, 2015 3:07 p.m.

Sen. Rob Portman joined his fellow Ohio Republican politicians in their collective outrage about President Barack Obama’s decision to revert Mt. McKinley to its Alaska Native name of Denali — but he got some of his history wrong.

Portman tweeted Sunday night the mountain was named to remember McKinley’s “rich legacy after his assassination.”

He also slammed Obama in the process:

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But according to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Portman’s timeline is off.

The mountain was first named for McKinley by a prospector in 1896 when the Ohioan was his party’s nominee for President, according to a timeline published by the National Park Service.

By 1897, the federal government started referring to it as such in publications, according to the Interior Department. McKinley was assassinated in 1901.

“Since 1897 and until today, the official name of the mountain in federal publications has been Mount McKinley,” Interior Department Press Secretary Jessica Kershaw said in a statement to TPM on Monday.

“The mountain retained the federally authorized name Mount McKinley, even as the name of the national park was changed in 1980 from Mount McKinley National Park into the new (and larger) area named Denali National Park and Preserve under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act,” Kershaw continued.

Portman’s press secretary Caitlin Conant told TPM in an email that the senator was probably referring to media reports that described the naming as taking place later.

“The WSJ and others reported that it got momentum after he was assassinated so that must be what he was referring to,” Conant wrote in the email. “It was officially named by the federal government in 1917 when Mt. McKinley National Park was enacted.”

Contant linked to this Wall Street Journal article.

TPM’s resident national park expert Molly McCluskey contributed to this report.

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