In 2009, President Obama was perceived to have slighted the press corps when he skipped the traditional Gridiron Dinner in 2009 and 2010. He was the first president to skip the dinner since Grover Cleveland. Former President Bill Clinton filled in for him in 2010. This spring, he’s making a comeback and will speak at the club dinner for the first time as president. He spoke as senator-elect in 2006.
The news was posted on the USA Today blog, The Oval, last night.
USA Today‘s Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page wrote in a note to FishbowlDC, “As president of the Gridiron Club and Foundation, I’m delighted to announce that President Obama will return to the warmth of the Gridiron Dinner this spring. Every president since Grover Cleveland has addressed the Gridiron Dinner during his tenure in the White House, and we’re thrilled that President Obama will continue that tradition at our 126th anniversary dinner in March.”
…”This time, as president, he’ll make the evening’s traditional closing remarks. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will be speaking for the Democrats. We haven’t yet announced who the Republican speaker will be. The evening also features satiric songs and skits by Club members.”
On or off record…Page writes, “The Gridiron Dinner often has been described as off-the-record. It may have been off-the-record once, but in practice it hasn’t been for many years. The club doesn’t allow cameras at the dinner, and we ask guests not to blog or tweet while the dinner is going on. But once we sing “Auld Lang Syne,” journalists and others who attend the dinner are free to write about it – and often do.”
The club is comprised of 65 D.C. journos only. Formed in 1885, it is the oldest association of journalists in Washington.