"They say that life is all about second chances," Obama said to laughter, his daughters, Sasha and Malia at his side. "And this November, I could not agree more. So in the spirit of the season, I have one more gift to give, and it goes to a pair of turkeys named Cobbler and Gobbler."
Video of the event shows that Obama's remark elicited no laughter, so if the president was trying to make a joke, it's unlikely to be remembered as one of his greatest hits.
On a conference call with donors last week, Romney said that the president was reelected because of "gifts" to Latinos, African Americans and young voters.
"The president's campaign, if you will, focused on giving targeted groups a big gift," Romney said during the call. "He made a big effort on small things."
Romney's comment drew criticism not only from the administration, but from members of his own party.
Bobby Jindal, the Republican governor of Louisiana, called Romney's remark "absolutely wrong," while former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich called it "nuts" and "insulting."
Carlos Gutierrez, who was Romney's director of Hispanic outreach, said he was "shocked" when he heard what the former governor said.
Obama, for his part, was able to get some laughs during the turkey pardon when he dropped Nate Silver's name, saying that The New York Times polling whiz was able to correctly predict which bird would be the named the 2012 National Thanksgiving Turkey.
According to the Associated Press, the turkey pardoning tradition began with President John F. Kennedy in 1963.