Corn bests Cob: Trump pardons 'lucky' Thanksgiving turkey but avoids political jokes

Michael Collins, USA TODAY
·3 min read

WASHINGTON – This time, there were no jokes about recounts and fair elections.

President Donald Trump emerged from the White House briefly on Tuesday to partake in an annual holiday tradition – the pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey – but passed up an opportunity to use the ritual as a commentary on this month's presidential election.

Trump, with first lady Melania Trump at his side, used the Rose Garden ceremony to grant a full pardon to a lucky gobbler named Corn and to celebrate the soaring stock market and the “strength, loyalty and faith” of Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“What we’ve endured and been able to endure, with the vaccines now coming out one after another – it’s an incredible thing that happened,” he said in a rare public appearance since losing the presidential election to Joe Biden.

President Donald Trump pardons Corn, the National Thanksgiving Turkey, in the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, in Washington, as first lady Melania Trump watches.
President Donald Trump pardons Corn, the National Thanksgiving Turkey, in the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, in Washington, as first lady Melania Trump watches.

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Trump’s serious tone was a marked contrast to his previous turkey pardonings, which he used to make light of his political situations.

Last year, in the midst of the House's impeachment inquiry, Trump cracked jokes about efforts to oust him from office.

In 2018, he joked about how a turkey named Peas bested another named Carrots in a vote on the White House website to decide which one would get the presidential reprieve.

“This was a fair election,” he said at the time, tongue planted firmly in cheek. “Unfortunately, Carrots refused to concede and demanded a recount. ... We’ve come to a conclusion. Carrots, I’m sorry to tell you, the result did not change.”

Two turkeys from a farm in Walcott, Iowa, have arrived in Washington, D.C. for the annual pardoning ceremony with the President.
Two turkeys from a farm in Walcott, Iowa, have arrived in Washington, D.C. for the annual pardoning ceremony with the President.

Trump steered clear of election talk this year, even though the administrator of the General Services Administration said Monday that she would allow President-elect Biden to begin his official transition. The announcement marked a formal recognition by the Trump administration that Biden won the Nov. 3 election, even though the president has refused to concede and continues to make accusations of voter fraud that lack evidence.

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At the pardoning ceremony, Trump mostly avoided making jokes, although he did note that Thanksgiving is not the best of days for turkeys and called Corn “a lucky bird” that has been waiting to receive his presidential reprieve.

Corn was chosen for the pardon and the title of National Thanksgiving Turkey over another gobbler named Cob. Both are part of a “presidential flock” of birds raised by turkey producers Ron and Susie Kardel of Walcott, Iowa. Though Corn got the official pardon, the lives of both turkeys will be spared. They will live out their days at Iowa State University and be available for public viewing starting Dec. 5.

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The turkey pardoning is an annual holiday tradition that has its roots dating back to President Abraham Lincoln and was made official in 1989 under President George H.W. Bush.

Trump and the first lady canceled their plans to spend Thanksgiving at their Mar-a-Lago private resort in Palm Beach, Florida, and will remain at the White House for the holiday.

Michael Collins covers the White House. Reach him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump pardons Thanksgiving turkey but skips political jokes