Obama, who leaves office in January, has followed the annual tradition of “pardoning” a turkey every year ahead of the Thanksgiving Day holiday, which many Americans celebrate with a turkey dinner.
His daughters, Malia and Sasha, often join their father for the tongue-in-cheek Rose Garden Ceremony.
Not this year.
“Of course, Thanksgiving is a family holiday as much as a national one. So for the past seven years, I’ve established another tradition: embarrassing my daughters with a corny-copia of Dad jokes about turkeys,” Obama said.
“This year they had a scheduling conflict,” he deadpanned.
The president was joined in the Rose Garden by his nephews instead. He joked that he planned to keep up the tradition during his post presidency.
After finishing his remarks, filled with puns, the president blessed a 40-pound (18-kg) fowl from Iowa, granting it a long life and a pardon from appearing on an American dinner table. A backup turkey also had its life spared. Their names: “Tot” and “Tater.”
(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Alexa Spencer; Editing by Alan Crosby)