back to top

That Proverb About The Russian Bear That Mike Pence Quoted Doesn't Seem To Exist

The closest version to Pence's quote during the Vice Presidential debate came from...Mike Pence in 2014.

Posted on

In the course of the whole...thing, Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence quoted what he said was an old proverb about Russia.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

"There’s an old proverb,” Pence said, “that says the Russian bear never dies, it just hibernates.”


And people who actually know about Russia were perplexed as to where the hell the phrase came from.

Mike Pence recalls an "old proverb" that I've never heard of: "The Russian bear never dies, it just hibernates." Um, no. #VPdebate

FACTCHECK: "The Russian bear never dies it just hibernates" is not a thing.

And of course there was snark because Twitter during a debate is fueled entirely on it.

PENCE: The Russian bear never sleeps, it hibernates. The French wolf doesn't cry, it makes beautiful love. The Portuguese dolphin doesn't la

"a bear never dies, it hibernates." -- Dwight K. Schrute, also Mike Pence

Can they bring a biologist onstage to confirm @mike_pence's bear comments? #VPDebate

There IS one place where the phrase, or something close to it pops up: in a quote from one Michael Pence given to the National Review back in 2014.

Afp / AFP / Getty Images

“History shows the Russian Bear’s ambitions never die, they just go into hibernation,” he told National Review reporter John Fund.

Hayes Brown is a world news editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Hayes Brown at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.