Prior to Donald Trump’s first turkey pardoning ceremony, the president joked that despite overturning many of his predecessor’s executive actions, he wouldn’t be slaughtering the turkeys pardoned by President Barack Obama last year.
Speaking at the White House ahead of the ceremony, Trump also said he was going to be a much nicer president than Harry Truman, who is often falsely credited with starting the tradition but in fact did not pardon any birds.
“As many of you know I have been very active in overturning a number of executive actions of my predecessor,” Trump said. “However, I have been informed by the White House council’s office that Tater and Tot’s pardons cannot under any circumstances be revoked—so, Tater and Tot, you can rest easy.”
And the National Thanksgiving Turkey is... DRUMSTICK!— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 21, 2017
After today's ceremony, both Drumstick and Wishbone will join last year’s turkeys, Tater and Tot, at Virginia Tech’s “Gobblers Rest” exhibit. pic.twitter.com/j3ePj3fCzB
The president also attempted a little pun during his speech, stating that during his time in office he had met some “strange birds.” The comment was met with silence.
In a tradition that allowed Obama to roll out a series of “dad jokes,” and more generally shows the commander-in-chief in a less serious role than he is often seen, turkeys are chosen each year to be pardoned at the White House.
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During his final turkey pardoning, Obama bestowed the favor on Tater and Tot while also cracking out his last Thanksgiving jokes to the nation.
“Malia and Sasha are thankful, by the way, that this is my final presidential pardon,” Obama said, noting his humor had been a source of embarrassment to his daughters over the years. “What I haven’t told them is that we’re doing this every year from now on. No way I’m cutting this habit cold turkey," he added, also mentioning that the turkeys "didn’t get to ride the gravy train to freedom.”
The turkey pardoning dates to 1863, according to the White House Historical Society, when President Abraham Lincoln pardoned one of the birds that were often given as gifts to the White House.
This year, the National Turkey Federation presented two turkeys to the president, named Drumstick and Wishbone, and Drumstick was officially pardoned after winning a White House poll.
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However, both birds will avoid ending up at the dinner table this Thanksgiving, and will join Tater and Tot at Virginia Tech’s “Gobblers Rest” exhibit.
According to White House social media accounts, the turkeys spent the day prior to the official pardoning at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, D.C., with Wishbone making a brief appearance in front of the White House press corps.
“Drumstick is a little bit more shy, so we just brought Wishbone in for today,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said as the turkey appeared before the cameras.
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