The annual White House Correspondents' Dinner has traditionally been the one night a year when journalists who cover the political happenings in Washington, D.C. mingle with their colleagues, lawmakers, and celebrity guests. This year, however, President Donald Trump has announced he's skipping the event entirely. But if Trump is expected to be a no-show, will former President Barack Obama attend the White House Correspondents' Dinner? Don't count on it.
Although Trump will be the first president to not attend the White House Correspondents' Dinner since 1981, don't expect his predecessor to show up to fill his shoes. Since leaving the White House, both Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama have been keeping as low of a profile as a former first family can. The two kicked off their post-presidency life with vacations in Palm Springs, the Caribbean, and Hawaii before settling into life as civilians in Washington, D.C., working on writing their books, and throwing casual cocktail parties at Obama's new office.
For his first public event since handing over the keys to the White House, Obama participated in a panel discussion with six "young student leaders" at the University of Chicago on April 24. He is also scheduled to speak at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston on May 7 at an event honoring him with the library's Profile in Courage award, the New York Times has reported.
One thing that Obama's post-presidency life doesn't include? Public criticism of his successor. Obama's purposeful avoidance of commenting on Trump's performance as president is exactly why his attendance at the White House Correspondents' Dinner seems so unlikely.
In lieu of hobnobbing with journalists at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, President Trump has said he plans to hold a "big" rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. "Next Saturday night I will be holding a BIG rally in Pennsylvania," the president tweeted on April 22. "Look forward to it!" According to Trump's campaign website, the rally is scheduled to kick off just as the White House Correspondents' Dinner gets underway in Washington, D.C.
The last president to bow out of attending the White House Correspondents' Dinner was Ronald Reagan, who in 1981 was forced to skip the event as he was still recovering from being shot in an assassination attempt. While he was unable to appear in person, Reagan did call into the event and tell a few jokes over the telephone.
Trump announced his decision to not attend the White House Correspondents' Dinner via Twitter in late February. "I will not be attending the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year," Trump tweeted. "Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!" Trump has had a tense and at times downright hostile relationship with the press since he announced his candidacy for president in 2015.