President Donald Trump on Tuesday partook in the White House’s Thanksgiving tradition of the president “pardoning” turkey, with this year’s lucky bird being one named “Corn.” The White House had conducted a Twitter poll on Monday to see if users wanted Corn or his friend “Cob” to be pardoned, with Cob getting the short end of the drumstick.
The two turkeys were chosen from a flock of 30 presented to the White House by the National Turkey Federation, with the flock having been raised in Iowa. The pair will be retired to and put under the care of veterinarians at Iowa State University, where visitors will be able to study poultry science, veterinary medicine, and farming, the president said.
“We’re here today to continue a beloved annual tradition: the presidential pardon of a very, very fortunate turkey,” Trump said at the Rose Garden event, then joking that “because Thanksgiving is a special day for turkeys–I guess probably for the most part not a very good one, when you think about it.”
He then went on to discuss this year being the 400th anniversary of the pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock in present-day Massachusetts, comparing the hard times they faced during their first winter to the hard times the country is facing right now with the coronavirus pandemic. At another moment, he thanked those who have been working in health care.
At the end of the ceremony, President Trump, accompanied by the First Lady, walked over to Corn to deliver the pardon, saying, “Corn, I hereby grant you a full pardon. Thank you, Corn.”
The tradition originates back in 1863 during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln when he rewarded clemency to a turkey, according to the White House Historical Association, but that the tradition evolved into its current form in 1989 when then-President George H.W. Bush allegedly used the term “pardon.”
This will be Trump’s final turkey pardon as president, with the General Services Administration on Monday night officially beginning the transition of the presidency to President-elect Joe Biden.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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