Considering his longstanding, one-sided war with the news media, it came as no surprise when President Donald Trump announced in February that he would not attend the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner (WHCD). That unsurprising tweet did not mean the highly glamorized awards event — during which the sitting president traditionally delivers a satirical speech — wouldn't go on. And with the April 29 dinner less a week away, Trump has tweeted his alternative plans: a "BIG" rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. That leaves open the question, though, of whether the person who is arguably the president's most effective surrogate will once again represent him. So, will Ivanka Trump attend the White House Correspondents' Dinner?
A trend throughout the campaign and well into his presidency, Trump has regularly blasted the press using inflammatory terms like "enemy of the people" and has even gone as far as singling out specific reporters to combat what he views as "dishonest" reporting of actual things he says and does. In doing so, the president has clearly demonstrated that he has very little respect for the American ideal of freedom of speech. And this year, the dinner falls on the 100th day of his presidency, a barometer by which a new president's success thus far is typically measured — and a standard by which some outlets have reported Trump, with his high-profile failures and low approval ratings, has fallen short.
Trump has a notoriously huge ego in addition to his documented disdain for the news media. So, it's really no surprise that he has opted to host a rally for supporters rather than show his face at an event where his predecessor, President Barack Obama, has roasted him and drawn accolades for his comedic skills for his speeches. Undoubtedly, he wouldn't get the glowing reviews or laughs that Obama did. Ivanka, on the other hand, is generally a bit more well-received.
The White House has not responded to Romper's request for comment about whether Ivanka, or any other member of the Trump family, will attend the dinner in the president's absence. After all, the dinner is historically a chance for the president, his staffers, and the journalists who cover them to get together and poke fun at one another — and Ivanka Trump recently assumed an official White House position as an unpaid special assistant to her father.
Even before that, though, Ivanka proved herself to be a popular bridge between her father and voters. She's clearly involved in policy and decision-making, too: She helped her father devise a child care plan during the campaign, attended a secret meeting with the president of Planned Parenthood, saw a Broadway show with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and even reportedly influenced her father's decision to launch an airstrike in Syria in April.
There isn't much modern precedent for who (if anyone) stands in for a president when he opts out of the proceedings: The last president to skip the event was Ronald Reagan in 1981, who was recovering after being shot in an assassination attempt at the time, according to NPR. And even he phoned in. Still, Ivanka is no stranger to the WHCD: In 2015, The Financial Times included her and her husband, now-White House jack of all trades Jared Kushner, as its guests to the soirée.
To attend this time as the first daughter, however, would be a very different experience for Ivanka, and would carry political implications that her 2015 appearance simply did not. Surely, White House staffers will instruct her to do whatever they deem best for her father's image.