Jan 21, 2024 - Politics & Policy

DeSantis' Churchill attribution puts fake quotes in the spotlight

 Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at his caucus night event on January 15, 2024 in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in West Des Moines, Iowa, earlier this month. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the end of his 2024 presidential campaign Sunday with an online post featuring a quote he attributed to the late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

The big picture: However, there's no evidence the World War II leader ever said: "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."

Of note: DeSantis' post to X crediting Churchill is the latest example of someone citing him with the apparently fake "courage" quote.

  • "These pop up by the dozens every day; while included in some poorly researched quote books, neither can be found among Churchill's 50 million published books, articles, speeches and papers; and words about him by close colleagues," wrote Langworth in 2011, noting the "courage" quote had also been misattributed to the late President Abraham Lincoln.

Between the lines: Churchill, Lincoln, Albert Einstein and Mark Twain are among the famous people who've often been misquoted in speeches and online posts, scholar and quote researcher Gerald Krieghofer told DW in an article discussing his finding over 500 false quotes misattributed to personalities and his efforts to verify their origins.

  • Some people like to use foreign quotations to indicate "worldliness" or that they're "well-read," according to the Austrian researcher, who writes a blog on false, or "cuckoo," quotes.
  • "A lot of them can be found in management guidebooks," Krieghofer told DW. "Obviously, there is always a need for motivational speeches to appear educated."
  • Representatives for DeSantis did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Go deeper: How Ron DeSantis' promising GOP candidacy went up in flames

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