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Did Mitt Romney Really Confuse Winston Churchill With John Maynard Keynes?


"When facts change, I change too, Madam."

This may not be a major gaffe, but it is slightly embarrassing.

Mitt Romney committed a mistake Thursday when he incorrectly attributed a quote to Winston Churchill, a traditional pillar of conservatism. Instead, the quote is often attributed to John Maynard Keynes, a man whose economic theories on government interventionism have been championed by leftists and progressives the world over. But even that is in question.

The moment occurred when Romney was attempting to defend himself from the oft-repeated accusation of being a "flip-flopper." During his defense, he said, "In the private sector, if you don't change your view when the facts change, well you'll get fired for being stubborn and stupid," according to NBC.

But then he added: "Winston Churchill said, 'When facts change, I change too, Madam.'"

That was his mistake. Winton Churchill never said that. That quote is often attributed to John Maynard Keynes, a different Englishman of a slightly different political persuasion.

What Keynes is commonly thought to have once said was was "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do sir?"

Whoops. Or is it?

Henry Blodget over at Business Insider points out that it's not a cold, hard fact that Keynes said that:

But now Jason Zweig of the WSJ has pointed out something startling: Even Keynes may not have said, "When the facts change, I change my mind..."

And Keynes also may not have said the other thing that everyone always says he said: "The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent."

These two quotes are among the most famous in history, having been cited in print more than half a million times. But Zweig talked to two Keynes experts who say there's no evidence that Keynes ever uttered either one of them.

So the gaffe is that he uttered a quote not actually said by a big-government economist and that he attributed it to someone who never said it. But hey, at least his gaffe was not as bad as, well, any of these:

  1. Was it a "breathalyzer" or an "inhalator"?
  2. Take your pick
  3. 57 states? Learn something new everyday
  4. That's not a soundtrack for your speech

Exit question: What do you think the 2008 election would have been like had news sources such as NBC subjected the presidential candidates (one in particular) to such thorough scrutiny?

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