President Barack Obama pardons national turkey Cobbler and alternate Gobbler, in Thanksgiving tradition begun by John F. Kennedy in 1963

3:39 PM, Nov 21, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (AP/Getty Images) - President Barack Obama has pardoned two turkeys in an annual Thanksgiving rite.

Obama said he wanted to offer a second chance to Cobbler, the newly designated national turkey, and his alternate, Gobbler.

Both are 19-week-old, 40-pound turkeys from Virginia. Their names were selected from submissions by elementary students in Rockingham County, Va., where the birds were raised.

For the first time this year, the public had a say in which bird would become the national Thanksgiving turkey. They were asked to cast their votes on the White House Facebook page.

Obama daughters Sasha and Malia  as well as National Turkey Federation Chairman Steve Willardsen were present at the Rose Garden event. The pardoned turkeys will spend the rest of their lives at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens in Virginia.   

Obama said the American people have spoken "and these birds are moving forward" - a reference to his campaign slogan, "Forward."

The tradition of pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey at the White House started with President John F. Kennedy in 1963.


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