Obama and Trump find time for work and dining during Thanksgiving holiday
For one President, it was his last Thanksgiving in power, for the next, his last before taking office. Both celebrated the holiday with family and friends after releasing video messages calling for Americans to come together after a divisive political campaign.
President Barack Obama, who inherited two wars when he came into office, spent part of his day calling members of the armed forces, thanking them for their service. President-elect Donald Trump tweeted that, even on a holiday, he was working to keep US jobs from moving to Mexico, a theme of his campaign.
Both released holiday messages that called for unity after an election that Trump said was “long and bruising” and Obama described as “noisy, passionate, and sometimes divisive.”
“Thanksgiving reminds us that no matter our differences, we are still one people,” Obama said in his weekly address to the nation, posted on the White House website Thursday morning. “We are neighbors who look out for one another, especially those among us with the least.”
In a video released Wednesday night, Trump said he prayed that the country could begin to heal and “move forward as one country strengthened by shared purpose.”
Trump tweeted on Thursday that he was “making progress” trying to get Carrier, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., to keep a furnace factory in Indiana and preserve 1,400 jobs there. Carrier responded to Trump, tweeting only that it had held discussions with Trump’s team and looked forward to working with his administration.
Amid the official duties, both men planned Thanksgiving celebrations.
The First Family’s White House dinner menu included selections of honey-baked ham with an apricot-mustard glaze, prime rib and creamed horseradish with a shallot marmalade, fried chicken wings and of course, the Thanksgiving staple, turkey -- roasted with thyme and served with a garlic jus and cranberry-orange relish.
As he has for 20 years, Trump celebrated at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, a property he acquired in 1985 for US$10 million. Already dubbed the “Winter White House,” the pink mansion that Trump converted to a luxury club is set on a 20-acre estate.
Mar-a-Lago Club’s website boasts of the “extraordinary culinary experience” it offers members and guests, ranging from continental cuisine to its six star seafood night.
On the menu for Thanksgiving, according to the president-elect’s staff: Florida stone crabs, lobster bisque and “Mr. Trump’s Wedge Salad.” For a main course, there was oven-roasted turkey, herb-marinated beef tenderloin, pan-seared Chilean sea bass and chef-carved leg of lamb. Eight deserts were offered, including “Three Layer Trump Chocolate Cake” and pecan pie.
An avid sports fan, Obama indicated in his holiday message that he’d watch some football as well -- there are three games to choose from, with the hometown Washington Redskins playing in Texas against the Dallas Cowboys, their arch rivals.
The holiday comes after a short work week. Obama held public events, awarding medals of freedom, the nation’s highest honour, to artists, athletes, philanthropists and scientists on Tuesday and offering a string of bad puns while issuing pardons to a pair of turkeys on Wednesday.
In a private event, Obama, First Lady Michelle, daughter Sasha and other family members served Thanksgiving meals to residents of the Armed Forces Retirement Home, a charitable organisation that cares for veterans, according to a White House official.
Trump had two meetings with members of the media as well as with candidates for posts in his administration. He formally announced his intention to appoint Betsy DeVos, a major Republican donor and school choice activist, as secretary of Education and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as ambassador to the United Nations.
The President-elect also tweeted that he was seriously considering Dr. Ben Carson to be secretary of Housing and Urban Development. After ending his own campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Carson endorsed Trump in March at a press conference held at the Mar-a-Lago Club.