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Reagan during his reelection tour, August 1984

On August 11, 1984, United States President Ronald Reagan, while running for re-election, was preparing to make his weekly Saturday radio address on National Public Radio.[1] As a sound check prior to the address, Reagan made the following joke to the radio technicians:

My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.[1]

The joke was a parody of the opening line of that day's speech:

My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you that today I signed legislation that will allow student religious groups to begin enjoying a right they've too long been denied — the freedom to meet in public high schools during nonschool hours, just as other student groups are allowed to do.[2]

Many Americans and Soviets were scared about a nuclear attack until Reagan admitted it was a joke.[3] Though this was not the first time Reagan had joked prior to giving a speech or address, the Soviets were offended and began mocking Reagan.

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