President Trump granted the traditional Thanksgiving-week turkey pardon on Tuesday, and got in some pushback at criticisms of him made earlier in the day by former Defense Secretary James N. Mattis.
As he offered holiday thanks for America’s troops and law enforcement officials, the president said, “As I say, ‘America First’ — shouldn’t go away from that, America First.”
Mr. Mattis wrote in an op-ed this week that Mr. Trump’s “America First” policy has damaged foreign alliances.
“In practice, ‘America first’ has meant ‘America alone,’” he wrote.
In the annual ceremony in the Rose Garden, Mr. Trump pardoned a turkey named Corn, whose partner Cob also made the trip to Washington from their farm in Iowa. Both birds will live at Iowa State University in Ames.
Mr. Trump also seemed to refer to his lingering contests in court against the election victory of presumed President-elect Joseph R. Biden, even as he hailed several new vaccines nearing approval for COVID-19.
“This week, at a time that is very unusual but in so many ways, very, very good, what we’ve endured and been able to endure with the vaccines now coming out, one after another — it’s an incredible thing that happened,” the president said.
“The greatest medical achievements that this planet has ever seen. But it’s time to remember that we live in a great, great country the greatest of them all. And there’s nothing even close, as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
He added, “During this Thanksgiving, we extend our eternal gratitude to the doctors, nurses, health care workers and scientists who have waged the battle against the China virus, and we give thanks for the vaccines and therapies that will soon end the pandemic.”
“It’s just, just such a tremendous feeling to know that they’re coming … probably starting next week, or shortly thereafter,” Mr. Trump said.
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