Al Melvin, Tucson State Senator Running for Governor, Misquotes Lincoln -- Doesn't Care

Al Melvin, a state senator running for governor, apparently has never heard of snopes.com.

Nor is he showing interest in debunking anything after he was flambeed by his Twitter followers over the past week and embarrassed in news articles for misquoting Abraham Lincoln.

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The Republican from Tucson hasn't bothered to take down quotes from his Twitter account in which he erroneously attributes to the 16th president as a backhanded way to try to criticize President Obama.

"#azright Abe Lincoln: 'You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong,'" read Melvin's first tweet misquoting Lincoln on December 27. He followed with:

"#azright0 Abe: 'You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.'"


"#azright Abe Lincoln:'You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.'"

For emphasis after the third tweet, he added, "POTUS Obama needs to learn from these words."

From the site, it appears that Robbie Sherwood, a political consultant, former Arizona Republic reporter and former chief-of-staff for Democratic Congressman Harry Mitchell, nailed Melvin's misquotes the same day.

"@SenatorMelvin This is an urban legend. Lincoln never said this, it has been falsely attributed to him. http://www.snopes.com/quotes/lincoln/prosperity.asp ..." Sherwood chided.

True enough, a months-old post on Snopes, a great site for checking Internet-driven BS that everyone should know about, reveals that the quote actually came from a Presbyterian minister 50 years after Lincoln's death. It's part of a list of "cannots" that was put on a pamphlet in the early 20th century and which has been confused with Lincoln nearly ever since for reasons that aren't clear, the site says.

"Klute," another of Melvin's tweet-suckers, tells the senator, "If you can't be bothered to learn truth from falsehood, why should you be even considered for Governor?"

Melvin doesn't acknowledge the responses, and leaves the quotes alone.

A story by Arizona reporter Howie Fischer about the misquotes was published in the Sierra Vista Herald on Monday afternoon, and was followed by other news outlets, including today by the national rawstory.com.

"It sounded good to me," Melvin told Fischer. "If anything, it's an innocent mistake on my part."

Melvin's a former Navy captain who now works as a "trade and transportation consultant." At least, that's what it says on his Arizona Legislature member bio. Maybe that should be run by Snopes, too...

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.