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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

President Pardons Turkey

Aired November 26, 2002 - 13:26   ET

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

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Once again, as the president of the United States gets ready, yes, gets ready, to do the presidential turkey pardon. This is serious business, folks. Let me give you a little history. This is the first year, actually, that a female turkey will be a part of this ceremony. Her name is Katie, and there is an alternate turkey, just in case something goes wrong with Katie. His name is Zach. These two turkeys were bred and raised in Clinton, North Carolina, specially for their national status. They were hatched on April 3, 2002. And we are told, there is special care and attention given to these birds. Let's go ahead and listen in to the president as he gets ready for the ceremony.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Welcome. Thank you, please be seated. Good afternoon and welcome to the Rose Garden. I'm glad you all are here.

I see the turkey standing there. He looks a little nervous, doesn't he?

(LAUGHTER)

Probably thinks he's going to have a press conference.

(LAUGHTER)

I really appreciate your coming to watch me give this bird a presidential pardon. Especially glad to see all the young people who are here. Thank you for coming in such wonderful looking costumes.

We welcome the Boys and Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts and school students from the Washington, D.C. area. Thanks for coming to the White House.

I wish my dog, Barney, was here, but I'm afraid Barney would have met his match with that turkey.

(LAUGHTER)

So we kept him inside.

I want to thank the secretary of agriculture for coming.

Ann, it's great to see you.

I appreciate all our distinguished guests for being here.

I particularly want to thank Ron Prestage, who is the chairman of the National Turkey Federation. It turns out, his dad, Bill (ph), was the chairman of the National Turkey Federation. We kind of like father and son combos around here.

(LAUGHTER)

It's also good to have Alice Johnson with us, as well. Thank you all for coming.

The Thanksgiving Proclamation, which I signed this morning, is a presidential tradition which began with George Washington. The days of Thanksgiving are an American tradition. We've observed this tradition since the pilgrims.

Americans have always been a grateful people. We're grateful for our freedom. We're grateful for our families. We're grateful for our beautiful country.

Each year at Thanksgiving, we gather in that spirit to count our blessings, and to share those blessings with our families and with others. On this holiday, American families will be thinking of loved ones far from home, especially members of our military who defend our country.

We remember those in other lands who suffer under oppression, who long for freedom. And we pray that they might one day live in a world at peace and in a free society.

And in this nation of many faiths, we ask that the Almighty God continue to bless us and to watch over us.

And now, as we look to our national day of Thanksgiving, I have the honor of carrying out an important presidential tradition. The bird's name is Katie.

(LAUGHTER)

Ron, it was awfully nice of you to name that bird after your daughter. It's a high honor to be named -- to have that turkey named after your child. And it's a fine looking turkey.

By virtue of this pardon, Katie is on her way, not to the dinner table, but to Kidwell Farm in Herndon, Virginia. There, she'll live out her days as safe and comfortable as she can be.

Thank you all for coming. Happy Thanksgiving.

I look forward to having a conversation with Katie.

Let's do it. Yes.

PHILLIPS: All right. It's official, the presidential tradition continues. The president pardoning the national turkey.

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