Obama pardons Thanksgiving turkeys after grueling 'Hunger Games'

WASHINGTON – President Obama employed one of his lesser presidential powers Wednesday, pardoning two turkeys in what has become a traditional Thanksgiving ceremony.

For the second year in a row, the public was asked to vote on a National Thanksgiving Turkey, and the nation chose Popcorn, known for his gobble's "garbled, longer notes" and "proud strut."


Popcorn, and his electoral rival Caramel, were raised in Badger, Minn., and faced competition from 78 other possible candidates before being introduced to the public Tuesday.

"It was, quite literally, 'The Hunger Games,'" Obama joked.

Obama continued with the comedy routine, noting that the election results prove "that even a turkey with a funny name can find a place in politics."

"As for Caramel, he's sticking around, and he's already raising money for his next campaign," he added.

While talking turkey, Obama gave thanks for the nation's blessings, and for the charitable efforts of those at home and abroad.

"On this quintessentially American holiday, we give thanks for friends and family, for citizens who show compassion to those in need," Obama said.

After his remarks, Obama stepped over to the victorious bird and performed the ceremony.

"With the power vested in me, I want to grant Popcorn a full reprieve from cranberry sauce and stuffing," Obama declared. "We wish you well, and we're going to give Caramel a break as well."

Popcorn, nonplussed by the whole event, stood still while receiving clemency, occasionally shooting glances toward the media.

The nation was presented with extensive profiles of the two finalists Tuesday, with everything from the turkeys' gobble to  their food preferences listed.

Though only Popcorn received top honors, both birds will be sent to George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens to live out the rest of their days, which, given the track record of previous presidential turkeys, may not be long. No turkey pardoned by Obama has lived for more than two years.

But at least Caramel and Popcorn won't be served up in the tradition of their earliest predecessors, which were displayed at the White House with "Good Eating Mr. President!" signs around their necks.

Held in the North Portico of the White House due to the storm sweeping across the East Coast, the festivities concluded swiftly, bringing attention back to the administration's announcement earlier in the day that it would be delaying small-business health insurance enrollment on by a year.