Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson chose to cap his debate performance Saturday night with a warning that “our country is headed off the cliffs” and a quote from a famous dictator.
“Joseph Stalin said if you want to bring America down you have to undermine three things: our spiritual life, our patriotism and our morality,” Carson said.
But as the fact-checking website Snopes.com finds, there’s no evidence Stalin ever said anything of the sort.
“We have yet to find a presentation of this quotation that references a verifiable source for it. Nearly all reproductions of this quotation simply offer it as an undated, unsourced statement attributed to Stalin,” the Snopes authors write, noting that the quote "doesn't really sound like something Stalin would have said, as its subtext is praise for the strengths of American patriotism, morality, and spiritual life."
This isn't the first time Carson referenced the fake Stalin quote or his only run-in with apocryphal statements. In a previous debate, Carson used his closing statement to misquote the preamble to the Constitution. His supporters also distributed a leaflet with an imaginary Alexis de Tocqueville saying on morality during last year's Conservative Political Action Conference.
And Carson is far from the only offender. As MSNBC's Steve Benen pointed out last year, candidates this cycle have shared phony -- if pithy -- adages supposedly attributed to everyone from Thomas Jefferson to Patrick Henry.