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Free bird: Thanksgiving turkey pardons

By: Russell McLendon on Nov. 21, 2016, 4:06 p.m.
President Ronald Reagan, 1983

Photo: Courtesy Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

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Not talking turkey

Ronald Reagan was the first president to use the word "pardon" when discussing the fate of his holiday poultry, but it wasn't during any photo-op festivities. While deflecting questions from reporters in 1987 about whether he would pardon U.S. officials involved in the Iran-Contra scandal, Reagan said that if that year's Thanksgiving turkey wasn't already bound for a petting zoo, "I would have pardoned him."