President Obama and daughters Sasha, center, and Malia meet Cobbler, the… (Alex Wong, Getty Images )
WASHINGTON — President Obama continued the White House tradition of pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey, but for the first time, the public decided which bird would get the honor by voting on the White House Facebook page. The winner? Cobbler, of the blue state of Virginia.
On an unusually warm Thanksgiving eve in Washington, more than 150 reporters and photographers gathered to witness the annual event, along with about 50 White House staffers.
Cobbler and Gobbler (the runner-up) were born on the same day on a farm in Rockingham County, Va., but according to the White House, that's where the similarities end. Cobbler craves cranberries and enjoys Carly Simon music. Gobbler likes corn and listening to fiddle music.
When all the votes were counted, Cobbler came out on top. But as is tradition, both turkeys are now free to enjoy a happy if short life at George Washington's Mount Vernon estate.
"They say that life is all about second chances, and this November I could not agree more," the president said. He referred to the "highly competitive online vote" that resulted in Cobbler's victory.
"The American people have spoken and these birds are moving forward," he continued, jokingly referring to his reelection campaign slogan "Forward."
"Congratulations, Cobbler; you're going to have a great life," the president said.
Although if recent trends hold, that happy life probably won't last long. One of the two turkeys that Obama pardoned last Thanksgiving died just days ago. Peace, who was born and raised on a farm in Minnesota, became ill over the weekend and had to be euthanized. Both turkeys pardoned in 2010 were also dead by the next Thanksgiving.
Like many events in Washington, the turkey pardon drew detractors. Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, asked the Obamas in a letter to opt for a vegan Tofurky roast instead of turkey and wished the first family a happy, "violence-free" Thanksgiving.