Gubernatorial Candidate Struggles Quoting Lincoln

Dec 31, 2013

A Republican gubernatorial candidate is quoting Abraham Lincoln in his effort to make a point. But, as Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports, there’s a small problem.

Gubernatorial hopeful and state Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson.
Credit Capitol Media Services file photo

In Twitter posts, Al Melvin quotes the 16th president as saying things like, “You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred,” and, “You cannot help the poor by destroy the rich.” But Arizona State University history professor Brooks Simpson said the quotes actually belong to William C.H. Boetcker, a minister who wasn’t even born when Lincoln was shot. Melvin said he got the quotes from a Republican club website and simply wanted to give credit where credit is due.

“I thought in all innocence that it was Lincoln who said it,” Melvin said. “But I guess … If Obama had said it I would have credited him (laughter). I know he wouldn’t have said it. But that was the point.”

Simpson, who is on the board of directors of the Abraham Lincoln Association, said members of his group are “used to hearing quotes attributed to Lincoln by people who have not taken the time to verify them.” But even after being told of the professor’s background and comments, Melvin was not ready to concede that perhaps he had not done his research prior to posting the tweets.

“The school of journalism at ASU is named after Cronkite. And to me, he's no American hero,” Melvin said. “So I wouldn’t know. I don’t know the background of this professor that you’re quoting. I have no idea who he is or what his political leanings are or anything.”