Journalists, government officials and celebrities attended the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner Saturday night without President Donald Trump, who spent the evening at a campaign rally in Michigan.
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“You may have heard I was invited to another event tonight — the White House Correspondents’ dinner,” the president told the crowd. “But I’d rather be in Washington, Michigan, than in Washington, D.C., right now.”
The president, who skipped the dinner for the second year in a row, called the event “phony.”
“Is this better than that phony Washington White House Correspondents’ Dinner? Is this more fun?” he asked the crowd. “I could be up there tonight smiling, like I love where they’re hitting you, shot after shot. These people, they hate your guts.
“And then I’m supposed to … ” he continued, faking an exaggerated smile. “And you know, you’ve got to smile. And if you don’t smile they’ll say, ‘He was terrible, he couldn’t take a joke.’ And if you do smile, they’ll say ‘What was he smiling about?’ You know, there’s no win.”
Trump also passed on last year’s dinner, instead hosting a rally in Pennsylvania for his supporters.
Comedian Michelle Wolf, a contributor to Comedy Central’s “Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” headlined the event. Margaret Talev, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, in a statement praised Wolf for her diverse background and for supporting the First Amendment and independent journalism.
“Her Pennsylvania roots, stints on Wall Street and in science and self-made, feminist edge make her the right voice now,” the statement read.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was expected to attend the dinner on Trump’s behalf.
“You know, one of the things we say in the south, if a Girl Scout egged your house, would you buy cookies from her? I think that this is a pretty similar scenario. There’s no reason for him to go in and sit and pretend like this is going to be just another Saturday night,” Sanders told ABC News before last year’s event.
“Well, I’m happy to be speaking to the White House correspondents’ spring prom,” Reagan said. “I’m sorry that I can’t be there in person.”