Graphic by Tam Duong Jr./The Pioneer
Saturday marked the 100th day in office for President Donald Trump. The President met with and spoke to supporters at a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. At the same time, the White House Correspondent’s Dinner took place in Washington, D.C. It was the first time a president missed the event since Ronald Reagan did so in 1981.
President Trump didn’t waste any time and got right to bashing the media when he addressed the crowd in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on Saturday. “A large group of Hollywood actors and Washington media are consoling each other in a hotel ballroom in our nation’s capital right now,” Trump told the crowd. “They are gathered together for the White House Correspondents’ dinner, without the President. And I could not possibly be more thrilled than to be more than 100 miles away from Washington’s swamp, spending my evening with all of you and with a much, much larger crowd and much better people.” According to the White House there were thousands of people in attendance in Harrisburg, an exact number of attendees was not yet given at publication time.
In the speech that nearly ran an hour long, the president addressed several hot-button issues that arose during his first 100 days in office, including the threat from North Korea, passing a health care bill and a potential renegotiation of the Paris Climate Accord. According to a 2016 statement from the United Nations, the Paris Climate Accord promotes “all nations collectively working to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.”
“We’re going to give Americans the freedom to purchase the health care plans they want, not the health care forced on them by the government,” Trump said at the rally in regards to the American Health Care Act. “And I’ll be so angry at Congressman [Mike] Kelly and Congressman [Tom] Marino and all of our congressmen in this room if we don’t get that damn thing passed quickly.”
Trump also signed two more executive orders in Harrisburg that dealt with U.S. trade agreements and the potential establishment of an office to regulate trade and manufacturing, according to multiple White House officials.
While Trump addressed supporters in Harrisburg, the annual White House Correspondent’s Dinner took place despite the president’s absence. President of the White House Correspondent’s Association and a journalist for Reuters, Jeff Mason, told the sold-out crowd, “We are here to celebrate the press, not the presidency.”
The dinner turned into an impromptu roast of the absent leader when Senior Correspondent for The Daily Show, Hasan Minhaj, made fun of the president’s first 100 days.
“I would say it is an honor to do this, but that would be an alternative fact. It is not,” Minhaj said. “No one one wanted to do this so of course it falls in the hands of an immigrant. That’s how it always goes down. This event is about celebrating the First Amendment and free speech. Free speech is the foundation of an open and liberal democracy from college campuses to the White House. Only in America can a first generation Indian-American Muslim kid get on this stage and make fun of the President.”
Mason went on to tell reporters covering the event that this was not intended to be a roast of Trump, but speakers do generally make their speeches “comedic.” According to the White House, the event began in 1921 and Calvin Coolidge was the first president to attend it in 1924. Reagan was the last president to skip the event when he did so in 1981; however, Reagan was recovering from an assassination attempt earlier that year, according to the White House.