Secret of Ronald Reagan's Wit Found in Note Cards

Sunday, 20 Jul 2014 12:56 PM

By Greg Richter

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President Ronald Reagan had a gift for one-liners, but they weren't as off-the-cuff as they seemed, CBS News reports.

In a story for "Sunday Morning," Mo Rocca visited the Reagan Library where he was shown a stack of 3-by-5 index cards taken from Reagan's last work desk.

Written in felt-tip ink were many of the classic lines the former president was known for. Many poked fun at his own age, which Democrats had attempted to use against him.

Story continues below.



"I can remember when a hot story broke, and the reporters would run in and yell, "Stop the chisels!" read one. "Just to show you how youthful I am, I intend to campaign in all 13 states," read another.

"Whatever you think the elephant in the room is, that's the thing you should be able to talk about and joke about," comedian Drew Carey told Rocca after reading over some of the jokes.

Reagan's daughter Patti Davis said her father used humor long before entering politics. It was likely a coping mechanism to deal with his alcoholic father, she said.

"He protected himself against the unpredictability of his home, by developing this sort of coating of humor over everything. 'I don't wanna feel the pain here. I don't wanna feel the unpredictability here,'" Davis said.

ABC News' Sam Donaldson once unwittingly provided Reagan the perfect setup: "Mr. President, in talking about the continuing recession tonight, you have blamed mistakes in the past. You have blamed the Congress. Does any of the blame belong to you?"

"Yes," Reagan answered, "because for many years I was a Democrat!"

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