Carrying on a centuries-old Thanksgiving tradition, President Obama today pardoned the official White House Thanksgiving turkey at a lighthearted ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, thanking both the bird and its alternate for their service before offering special Thanksgiving wishes to the victims of superstorm Sandy and to U.S. forces abroad.
In a thinly-veiled reference to the presidential election, Mr. Obama, joined by his daughters Sasha and Malia for the ceremony, joked that "life is all about second chances, and this November I could not agree more."
"So in the spirit of the season, I have one more gift to give and it goes to a pair of turkeys named Cobbler and Gobbler," he said. Noting that the official White House turkey was selected via a "highly competitive online vote" -- Gobbler was elected to be Cobbler's alternate -- he said: "The American people have spoken and these birds are moving forward."
Striking a more serious note, the president reflected on the holiday as a "chance to spend time with the people we care about and to give thanks for the blessings we enjoy," as well as an opportunity to "remember those who are less fortunate."
"This year that's particularly true for our neighbors in the Northeast who have lost their homes, possessions ,and even their loved ones to Hurricane Sandy," he said.
After issuing the official pardon, he encouraged his daughters to pet the 19-week old, 40-lb bird. Sasha, the younger, complied; giggling, Malia kept her distance.
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