WHITE HOUSE NEWS: Comments By President Biden On Pardoning The National Thanksgiving Turkey

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THE PRIDENT: Good afternoon everyone. Please take your seats. It’s an honor to welcome you to the White House Thanksgiving tradition. This reminds us to have fun and be thankful.

I know that as a University of Delaware student, I love Blue Hens. But today, we will be talking turkey. To my family and staff, thank you so much for being here.

And thank you,


[Phil] Seger, Chairman of the National Turkey Federation, for continuing the tradition of presenting the turkey to the President that goes back to President Truman.

(Turkeys gobble. )

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. (Laughter.) Yes. George H.W. Bush is the one who pardoned the turkey. Bush.

I just met your wonderful family: Your wife, Krista, who volunteers to get kids vaccinated back home in Jasper — thank you very much for doing that; and your incredible children — 12-year-old Addie and 10-year-old Ellie and 9-year-old Jack.

And Addie, Ellie, I’m sure your parents will get it — I ran for President so that my grandchildren, your age, could have Secret Service protection. You are both beautiful young women and men.

Look. A special thank you to Jack’s Jasper school and Ellie’s school for naming these fine turkeys. These names are two that I couldn’t agree more. There is no better way to celebrate the holiday than by breaking bread for Peanut Butter and Jelly.

I have to be honest with you, my wife doesn’t like it but that’s what I eat for lunch. Peanut butter and jelly.

But I also want to thank the farmers who were selected by the National Turkey Federation to raise what’s called the “Presidential Flock.”

That’s a group of 20 or so turkeys vying to make it here today. The turkey presidential primary. (Laughter. )

Andrea and Brad Welp are third- and fifth-generation farmers respectively from St. Anthony, Indiana. They’re here with their 5-year old son, Benton and their 2-year-old girl, Brogan. Brogan wonders “Why do you have to be here Mommy?” (Laughter. )

This day has been coming since July — they have been busy preparing the flock. According to me, the turkeys listen to music to adjust to the noise from the crowd. They’ve also interacted with visitors and children to adjust to Washington.

And eventually, Peanut Butter and Jelly were selected
based on their temperament, appearance, and, I suspect, vaccination status. (Laughter. )

(Turkeys gobble. )

THE PRINCIPAL: Ah, you see? (Laughter.) These turkeys are being boosted, not basted. (Laughter. )

(Turkeys gobble. )

THE PRESIDENT: (Laughs.) Yeah. (Laughter.) They are so sweet and funny.

This week they were welcomed at the Willard Hotel next door, a fancy hotel in Washington.

Secretary Buttigieg could not be present today. I am sorry for Pete, Chasten, and Jelly: Peanut Butter and Jelly have become the new Indiana power couple.

Andrew and Brad, thank for all your hard work and dedication to this national tradition. Benton and Brogan, although you will miss your beloved turkeys, the good news is that you will still be able visit them.

After receiving their presidential pardons, Peanut Butter and Jelly will head to Purdue University West Lafayette in West Lafayette, Indiana to visit the Boilermaker special train. They’ll be there.

Folks, turkey is infrastructure. As we move forward, Peanut Butter and Jelly will help to Build Back the Butterball. (Laughter. )

I hereby — I’m going over. I will pardon this year’s turkey, the national Thanksgiving turkey. Peanut Butter is the first to be pardoned. He should be able and able to fulfill his duties. Also, I’m going — in the event that anything changes, I’m also going to pardon his alternative, Jelly.

Folks: As I have said before, every American wants to see the turkey in his eyes and tell him that everything is going to be fine. (Laughter.) It’s all going to be alright, people.

It’s important to keep traditions like these to remind us that from darkness comes light, hope, and progress. This is what I believe Thanksgiving represents.

Many of us will gather with loved ones for the very first time in a while. We’ll be reuniting with old traditions and filling our hearts with grace and gratitude for all those who made it possible.

The scientists, doctors, nurses and other frontline workers who created and administered vaccines and maintained essential services.

Faith leaders, community leaders, who counsel, comfort and heal.

Farmers and farmworkers, as well as meatpackers, who took risks to ensure that we have food on our plates.

And my wife Jill, and I will travel to Fort Bragg, North Carolina on Monday for an early Thanksgiving with troops and their families. We will be able show our gratitude to the nation for their sacrifices and welcome those returning from 20 Afghanistan.

But folks, we must remember those who have been hurt or who have lost so much.

The grief they feel is so deep that it tears at our hearts every holiday. We pray that they find strength in their sorrows and purpose in their pain.

And as we reclaim our cherished traditions, let’s commit ourselves to what the Psalmist wrote — said, “The Lord is my strength and my shield…and with my song I give Him thanks.”

Let our song be one of lives saved, breaches repaired, a nation made whole. That’s America I know. It is a great country because it is good people.

I am forever grateful to the American people for their trust in me.

From the Biden family, to yours: We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.

And may God bless — God bless. God bless our troops.

And may, let’s get down to business. We are grateful. (Applause.)

That is a large turkey. I am the President of the United States and I have the power to pardon you. This Thanksgiving, I offer my sincere condolences.

Speak up! (Laughter. )

(Turkeys gobble. )

There’s your answer. (Laughter.) “Thanks for the pardon.”

But I also have to pardon — I have to pardon Jelly too.

Jelly you don’t need to get up, but I do pardon you, kid. Yeah.

Thank you, everybody. I wish you a happy, healthy, and happy Thanksgiving. It’s freezing. (Laughter. )

All right. Thank you all. (Applause.)

3: 38 P.M. EST

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