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Biden pardons Chocolate and Chip to kick off holiday season

By Darlene Superville | Associated press

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Monday continued a 75-year tradition of pardoning a pair of Thanksgiving turkeys named after his favorite flavor of ice cream while making jokes about his political party’s better-than-expected performance at the midterm elections this month.

“The votes are there, they’ve been counted and verified,” Biden said as he greeted the Chocolate and Chip turkeys in front of hundreds of people gathered on the South Lawn in unusually cold weather. “There is no ballot box stuffing. There is no poultry game. The only red wave this season will be if German Shepherd Commander spills cranberry sauce on our table. The commander is his dog.

Chocolate and Chip, each weighing nearly 50 pounds (23 kilograms), were flown in from North Carolina on Saturday. They were checked into a room at the Willard Hotel near the White House to await their visit with the president and his declaration of freedom.

Chocolate chips are Biden’s favorite ice cream flavor. The president joked at the event that “we could have named them Chips and Science,” after the $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act he championed and signed into law this year.

“I hereby forgive Chocolate and Chip,” Biden said. Before the ceremony, his son Hunter Biden brought his toddler, Beau, who is almost 3, outside to see the turkeys.

Both gobblers hatched in July in Monroe, North Carolina, according to the National Turkey Federation, sponsor of the turkey tradition, which dates back to 1947 and President Harry Truman.

The burst of holiday activity at the White House followed a personally busy weekend for Biden and his family, as well as a midterm election that saw the president’s Democratic Party perform well enough to defy historical trends. who predicted huge losses. The Democrats will retain control of the Senate. Although Republicans will control the House when a new Congress sits in January, Democrats have minimized GOP gains in that chamber.

The official White House Christmas tree was delivered on Monday, and the Bidens helped serve a Thanksgiving-style dinner at a Marine Corps base in North Carolina later that evening.

Biden and his wife, Jill, were scheduled to leave Washington on Tuesday to continue their family tradition of spending the Thanksgiving holiday on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. They hosted the wedding of their granddaughter Naomi Biden at the White House on Saturday, followed by a family brunch on Sunday for the president’s 80th birthday.

Humor aside, the president ended Monday’s White House event on a serious note, encouraging people to get their COVID-19 shots to ensure a healthy holiday season. He also encouraged Americans to reflect and “be thankful for what we have.”

“This is a special time… in the greatest nation on Earth, so let’s be grateful,” he said.

Chocolate and Chip were to live out the rest of their lives on the campus of North Carolina State University.

Jill Biden did her part by receiving the official White House Christmas tree. The 18-foot-tall (5.5-meter) Concolor tree grown on a farm in Pennsylvania, the state where the president was born and the first lady grew up, will fill the Blue Room after a chandelier was temporarily removed to allow the tree to be anchored in place for added security.

“I love the tree,” the first lady said after being asked how she liked it. She was holding her grandson Beau’s hand. “He wanted to go out and see the tree.”

Volunteer decorators began arriving at the White House on Monday to begin sprucing it up for Christmas in a theme first ladies traditionally reveal after Thanksgiving.

Paul and Sharon Shealer of Auburn, Pennsylvania were crowned this year’s Grand Champion in the National Christmas Tree Association’s National Christmas Tree Contest. Along with the prize, the winner can present a Christmas tree to the White House.

This is the second time the Shealers have won the association’s highest honor. They presented a tree to first lady Hillary Clinton in 2000.

Later Monday, the Bidens traveled to Marine Corps Air Force Base Cherry Point near the North Carolina coast for “Thanksgiving” or to share a Thanksgiving-style meal with members of the army and their families. The first couple expressed their gratitude for their sacrifices to the approximately 350 people present.

“You represent 1% of the population and stand up for the rest of us,” Biden told service members and their families, who came from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station, New River. , before the start of dinner. “You are the backbone, the nerve, the backbone of the country.”

Later, Biden helped serve mounds of mashed potatoes, while the first lady handed out stuffing.

Jill Biden leads a White House initiative called Joining Forces to support and promote the sacrifices and needs of military families. The president has lobbied and signed several bills to help service members and veterans, including legislation expanding health care for those who have been exposed to toxic substances from burning waste in Iraq or Iraq. Afghanistan, or chemicals used in previous conflicts.

The Bidens’ late son, Beau Biden, served in the Delaware Army National Guard, including a tour of Iraq, before dying of brain cancer in 2015.

Associated Press writer Colleen Long in Cherry Point, North Carolina, contributed to this report.

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