Turkeys avoid Thanksgiving fate with U.S. presidential pardon

WASHINGTON Wed Nov 27, 2013 5:25pm EST

1 of 6. U.S. President Barack Obama joins his daughters Sasha (3rd R) and Malia (R) as they pardon National Thanksgiving Turkey 'Popcorn', on the 66th anniversary of the ceremony, on the North Portico of the White House in Washington, November 27, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Taking a break from weighty matters of state and pitched battles with political foes, President Barack Obama exercised the lighter side of his authority Wednesday by sparing two magnificent turkeys the fate of becoming someone's Thanksgiving dinner.

"The office of the presidency, the most powerful position in the world, brings with it many awesome and solemn responsibilities," he said as one of the turkeys strutted around the stage next to him. "This is not one of them."

The pardoning event, an annual ritual, took place under the awning of the White House's North Portico as a small crowd squeezed together to escape a pelting rain, providing material for wags in Washington. Cable television network C-SPAN, best known for its live coverage of Congress, boasted that it was offering "gobble to gobble coverage" of the ceremony.

The president announced that, after the public voted, a turkey named Popcorn was declared winner of the 2013 National Thanksgiving Turkey competition over his rival Caramel. Popcorn, an almost 2-foot tall, 40-pound fowl with a blue-tinged head, fanned his tail feathers spectacularly as he strolled about the stage under the watchful eyes of several minders.

Obama, who has said his ability to get elected to the White House despite his Kenyan family last name is a testament to America's tolerance and diversity, displayed a politician's appreciation for both the winner and loser of the contest.

"The competition was stiff, but we can officially declare that Popcorn is the winner, proving ... that even a turkey with a funny name can find a place in politics," Obama said.

"As for Caramel," he added. "He is sticking around and he's already busy raising money for his next campaign."

Americans have been sending presidents turkeys for Thanksgiving since the 19th century, the White House said. George H.W. Bush was the first president to officially pardon a bird in 1989, the White House added.

Popcorn and Caramel were both raised on a farm in Minnesota. After the pardon, the birds will be on display just outside the nation's capital at Mount Vernon, the estate that first U.S. president, George Washington, called home.

(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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Comments (6)
kbill wrote:
I wonder when serious news organizations are going to stop covering this kind of populist nonsense?

Pardoning the turkey and showing up to hand out Thanksgiving Dinner for the “needy” (aka unregistered Democrats) is simply not “news” nor is it newsworthy.

It is sad enough that politicians are willing to initiate this desperate stuff — its even sadder than news organizations are willing to give it anything more than sarcastic coverage.

When you guys (publishers, editors, owners) get together at your “convention” or whatever you call it when you leave town for 3 days of golf and letting off steam at the company’s expense, could you get together with your colleagues and just agree to stop doing this?

Nov 27, 2013 9:57pm EST  --  Report as abuse
BlueOkie wrote:
POTUS does everything half-way, seems only one Turkey showed up.

Nov 28, 2013 8:09am EST  --  Report as abuse
rblivingston wrote:
In the US today more Americans are poorer, less job secure, more hungry, and live shorter lives than citizens of most countries of the world– while the stock markets jump to new records and wealth flows to a handful of the richest.

If only there were a New World to which we could escape!

Nov 28, 2013 11:30am EST  --  Report as abuse
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