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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Annual Presidential Pardon of a Thanksgiving Turkey

Aired November 24, 2003 - 09:26   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it's that time of year again. President Bush is holding the annual pardoning of the White House turkey event at the Rose Garden. Let's listen in.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... compassion, you're showing the goodness of America, and we are really proud of you. Thanks for doing that.

I want to thank our secretary of agriculture for joining us today. Secretary Ann Veneman is doing a great job for our country. I want to thank Bob Wright, who's the chairman of the National Turkey Federation, for joining today. I appreciate Dr. Alice Johnson, who's the president.

Thanks for coming, Alice.

Today marks a -- and continues a long White House tradition. We're honoring the beginning of a holiday season. It speaks well for America that one of our most important holidays is set aside for sharing and appreciating our blessings. Our nation was founded by people of great accomplishment, great courage, and great humility. They believed not only in themselves, but also in the goodness of God's wisdom and God's plan for every life. This American quality has endured throughout the generations. Americans are, at our best, are a reverent and a grateful people. Even in times of hardship, we see all around us gifts to be thankful for: our families and friends, the beautiful land we call home, and the freedom granted to us all.

This year, as in other times in our history, we can be especially grateful for the courage and faithfulness of those who defend us. Every man and woman who wears our country's uniform is a volunteer, facing hardships and sometimes peril, because they believe in this country and our cause. We're thinking of them and their families. We think of the military families that have suffered loss. We can be grateful to live in a country that has produced such good and brave people who stand between us and the dangers of the world.

On this holiday, we're reminded of our blessings. We're reminded of our responsibilities. Our nation's sense of gratitude is the source of the great generosity and compassion of our people.

And now it's time to grant a little compassion to our guest of honor. I'm not sure why any turkey would want to reside at a place called Frying Pan Park. (LAUGHTER)

Maybe they explained the alternatives to him.

(LAUGHTER)

In any case, off he goes. By virtue of the presidential pardon, Stars will live out his days there at Kidwell Farm in Virginia. And so he won't be alone, I hereby pardon Stripes, as well.

Happy Thanksgiving to you. May God bless you and your families. Thanks for coming.

(APPLAUSE)

O'BRIEN: There is the president, standing next to -- although I have to admit, a little bit far from Stripes. He's not hugging up next to Stripes, the newly pardoned turkey.

Fifty-sixth year in a row that the president has pardoned a turkey right before Thanksgiving. The audience of little kids, I suspect is what this is all about.

Interesting to hear the turkey gobbling throughout the entire press conference that the president was holding.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Can we say I prefer drumstick at this point?

O'BRIEN: No, you may not because that would be inappropriate.

HEMMER: Is that a bad thing.

O'BRIEN: Yes it would.

HEMMER: Thought it would be in good taste.

O'BRIEN: We're just going to move right along.

HEMMER: All right, go ahead.

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