It's long been known that President Donald Trump won't be attending this year's White House Correspondents' Dinner. Often referred to — both affectionately and disparagingly — as "nerd prom," the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner has traditionally been the one night a year when journalists tasked with covering the political happenings in Washington, D.C. hobnob with both their sources and high-profile celebrity guests. This year, however, the president's contentious relationship with the press led him and all of his White House staff to boycott the dinner, casting a shadow over the event. But if Trump isn't at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, where is he?
Nearly two months after he revealed he would not be attending the first White House Correspondents' Dinner held during his presidency, Trump announced plans to hold a "big" rally in Pennsylvania the same time as the big gala. "Next Saturday night I will be holding a BIG rally in Pennsylvania," the president tweeted April 22. "Look forward to it!"
According to Trump's campaign website, the rally is scheduled to take place at 7:30 p.m. on April 29 at the PA Farm Show Complex & Expo Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. That means Trump's rally will kick off just as the White House Correspondents' Dinner gets underway in Washington, D.C.
Next Saturday night I will be holding a BIG rally in Pennsylvania. Look forward to it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2017
The timing of Trump's latest rally has some wondering whether the scheduling is a coincidence or a strategic maneuver geared at diverting attention from the White House Correspondents' Dinner. The New York Times, for example, characterized Trump's rally as "another thumb-in-the-eye to the White House press corp." While it remains unclear exactly what the focus Trump's April 29th rally will be, the date also coincides with the president's 100th day in office.
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!" Although his absence will be fairly unusual, Trump's decision to skip the press corps' big dinner was not altogether surprising. Trump has had a tense and at times downright hostile relationship with the press, particularly since he announced his candidacy for president.
Wasn't enough for Trump to skip WH Correspondents Dinner—now holding rally at same time, which many would-be dinner goers will have to cover https://t.co/J7mabsE8xv— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) April 22, 2017
Not long after Trump returned his RSVP with a firm "No" to the White House Correspondents' Dinner, the Trump administration announced that the entire White House staff would also sit out the event. "The staff is standing in solidarity with the president, who has been treated unfairly," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement released last month. "We hope, including the president, that things improve and we can attend next year."
The White House Correspondents’ Association, which hosts the dinner each year, had said they were disappointed by the Trump administration's decision to boycott the event but that invitations for Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and White House aides would still stand should they change their minds.