Tales from the Trail

Bill Clinton to headline Gridiron Club dinner, Obama away

Former President Bill Clinton will be the main speaker at the March 20 Gridiron Club dinner where journalists wear costumes and perform musical skits in a roast of the movers and shakers in Washington, and political leaders respond with speeches that poke fun right back. USA/

President Barack Obama will not attend for a second straight year. He will be on an overseas trip, and last year he went to Camp David.

While he spoke at the white-tie dinner of the oldest journalistic organization in Washington, D.C. when he was a senator, Obama last year became the first U.S. president not to attend in his first year of office since Grover Cleveland.

Vice President Joe Biden substituted last year and had some memorable one-liners at his boss’ expense, saying Obama couldn’t attend because he was preparing for Easter — “He thinks it’s about him.” But the veep was unable to sub again this year.

Something new this year, the Gridiron Club will match member contributions up to $10,000 to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund which is raising money to help the earthquake victims.

How Obama is like Grover Cleveland

President Barack Obama is skipping the Gridiron Club’s annual dinner on March 21, putting him in the same company as 1880s President Grover Cleveland.

Obama will be the first president since Cleveland not to attend the first Gridiron dinner of his PRESIDENTSpresidency.

The Gridiron Club, formed in 1885, is an old institution and its members include many of Washington’s most prestigious journalists. While VIP guests dine, the journalists put on gawdy costumes and sing songs in a roast of politicians that promises to “singe but not burn.”