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PolitiFact FL: DeSantis ended his campaign quoting Churchill on something he did not say

Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a campaign event at The Drive-In, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, in Florence, S.C.
Sean Rayford
/
AP
Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a campaign event at The Drive-In, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, in Florence, S.C.

DeSantis said Churchill said, "success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." PolitiFact reports the International Churchill Society, the Churchill Project at Hillsdale College and a Churchill historian say that Churchill didn’t say that.

WLRN has partnered with PolitiFact to fact-check Florida politicians. The Pulitzer Prize-winning team seeks to present the true facts, unaffected by agenda or biases.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis dropped out of the 2024 Republican presidential primary race Jan. 21 in a video posted to X. The post included a quote that DeSantis attributed to former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

"‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.’ - Winston Churchill," DeSantis’ X post said.

The problem? Churchill didn’t say this, despite the quote being repeatedly attributed to him. DeSantis’ campaign did not respond to our request for comment.

The International Churchill Society’s website includes the quote DeSantis used and a similar version in a list of "quotes falsely attributed to Winston Churchill."

"We can find no attribution for either one of these, and you will find that they are broadly attributed to Winston Churchill. They are found nowhere in his canon," the group said on its website.

Another article from the organization says it found no mention of the quote after searching "fifty million words by and about Churchill, including all of his books, articles, speeches and papers."

Churchill did speak about success, but not in the context DeSantis presented. Churchill, for instance, said: "Success always demands a greater effort," according to the International Churchill Society.

Historian Richard Langworth, who has written multiple books about Churchill, wrote in a 2019 article that Churchill "never said" the quote.

"Winston Churchill has become something of the king of fake quotes — a phenomenon the Internet has pushed to the extreme," the Churchill Project at Hillsdale College said online after agreeing that it was not Churchill who made the statement.

PolitiFact has previously fact-checked multiple quotes misattributed to Churchill.

Our ruling

DeSantis said Churchill said, "success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."

But the International Churchill Society, the Churchill Project at Hillsdale College and a Churchill historian say that Churchill didn’t say that.

We rate DeSantis’ attribution False.

Copy Chief Matthew Crowley contributed to this report.

RELATED: All of our fact-checks of Ron DeSantis

Our Sources

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Maria Ramirez Uribe | PolitiFact