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For his closing debate statement, Ben Carson just recited the Constitution aloud

Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

The last minutes of the Republican debate formed the candidates' last chance to make an appeal to voters and sum up their message as the Iowa caucuses approach.

And so Chris Christie mentioned 9/11. Marco Rubio referenced the Bible. Jeb Bush bragged about Florida. Ted Cruz promised to repeal Obamacare.

And Ben Carson recited the preamble to the Constitution:

Please think of our Founding Fathers as you listen: We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the benefits of liberty1 to ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this constitution of the United States of America.

Carson was slightly off here — it's "secure the blessings," not "benefits."

It was a strange moment in a night where Carson had already distinguished himself with odd remarks. ("Putin is a one-horse country: oil and energy," he said in response to a question about a hypothetical Russian invasion of Estonia, a phrase that will linger in the annals of garbled debate quotes.)

Carson added just seven original, if enigmatic, words to his closing statement: "Folks, it's not too late. Enough said."