Cheese bests Mac in quest for Obama's Thanksgiving turkey pardon

Wed Nov 26, 2014 3:36pm EST
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By Amanda Becker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday pardoned a turkey named Cheese to mark the country's Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, when roasted turkey is the traditional main course.

Obama, in a light-hearted ceremony before a small group of White House visitors, said that pardoning Cheese would surely be the "most talked-about executive action" he has taken this month.

"Today I am taking an action fully within my legal authority, an executive action taken by Democrat and Republican presidents before me, to spare the lives of two turkeys, Mac and Cheese," Obama said.

Obama's remarks, which referenced his announcement last week that he would take action to defer deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants, drew laughter from the crowd.

Though Cheese alone is the National Thanksgiving Turkey, he will be joined by Mac at Morven Park's Turkey Hill, the former home of a Virginia governor. There, the two birds will enjoy a form of amnesty, Obama said.

U.S. presidents have been pardoning turkeys since the 1800s. Starting in 2012, the top turkey has been chosen by a public vote.

The White House said that Mac and Cheese were "beak-to-beak" on Twitter in the days leading up to the pardon as users weighed in on which bird should receive the official pardon.

Mac and Cheese are males born in July that hail from Cooper Farms in Oakwood, Ohio.   Continued...

U.S. President Barack Obama pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey "Cheese" at the White House in Washington November 26, 2014. REUTERS/Gary Cameron