Obama defends his legal authority - to pardon Thanksgiving turkeys

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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is defending his legal authority to take executive actions — to spare a pair of Thanksgiving turkeys.

Obama joked that his annual turkey pardon will be his "most talked about executive action this month." Last week, the president issued a series of highly anticipated executive actions on immigration that are opposed by Republicans.

The two turkeys who were granted this year's presidential pardons are Mac and Cheese. Obama says that around Thanksgiving, turkeys named after side dishes would normally have a "pretty low" chance of escaping the dinner table.

As he sent Mac and Cheese on their way, he said "It is a little puzzling that I do this every year."

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

President Barack Obama is pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey, but which of two gobblers will get the presidential pass?

Will it be Mac? Or is it Cheese?

The White House was running an online contest until Wednesday afternoon to let the public decide which of the two nearly 50-pound birds from an Ohio farm will be named the National Thanksgiving Turkey. Unlike thousands of other turkeys across the country this week, the winner of this competition will be spared from the inside of an oven or deep fryer.

The tradition actually is for both turkeys to be spared.

After the presidential pardon is issued, the birds will be sent to a Northern Virginia turkey farm to live out the rest of their days.

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