After election stuffing, Obama pardons turkey

Wed Nov 24, 2010 5:00pm EST
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By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - He couldn't preserve the political lives of fellow Democrats this month, but he can still save a turkey.

President Barack Obama pardoned "Apple," a 45-pound bird, and his feathered friend, "Cider," on Wednesday in an annual White House ritual ahead of Thanksgiving, a holiday Americans celebrate with a big turkey dinner.

"Today, I have the awesome responsibility of granting a presidential pardon to a pair of turkeys," Obama, standing with his two daughters in the White House Rose Garden, told a smiling audience.

"Now, for the record, let me say that it feels pretty good to stop at least one shellacking this November."

Democrats lost strength in the Senate and their majority in the House of Representatives on November 2 in elections Obama described famously as a "shellacking", or heavy beating.

Politics took a backseat to the more high-profile turkey ceremony on Wednesday, however, and the president -- calling it "one official duty I am sworn to uphold as the leader of the most powerful nation on Earth" -- made the most of it.

He explained the process that led to the birds' selection: two turkeys from a California ranch won the high-stakes competition by strutting to music before a panel of judges.

"Only one pair would survive and win the big prize: life and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington," Obama said to laughter.   Continued...

<p>President Barack Obama pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey next to National Turkey Federation President Yubert Envia in the Rose Garden of the White House, November 24, 2010. REUTERS/Larry Downing</p>