Obama gets one more chance to zing official Washington

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is getting one more chance to poke fun at fellow politicians, the press and himself at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

The dinner Saturday night comes amid a fierce presidential campaign that should provide plenty of material for after-dinner remarks by Obama and this year’s professional comic, TV host Larry Wilmore. The president arrived at the head table with first lady Michelle Obama.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump, a regular in recent years, wasn’t among the host of Hollywood stars, athletes, celebrities and government officials filling the ballroom of the Washington Hilton. A son and daughter-in-law, Donald Jr. and Vanessa Trump, were spotted on the red carpet.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders joined Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and other government officials taking a seat in the ballroom. Also on hand were Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Among the film and television performers at the event were Oscar winners Helen Mirren and Jared Leto, “Breaking Bad” actor Bryan Cranston, “Independence Day” stars Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum, actress Rachel McAdams, and “Night Manager” miniseries star Tom Hiddleston.

Obama has described the dinner as Washington celebrating itself. Others call it the nerd prom.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama enjoys the opportunity to speak at the event, in part, because so many of the other speeches he gives deal with such serious topics, and this is the unique event that allows him to share some laughs about the political process and those who participate.

Wilmore also likes to make fun of Washington. He is best known for appearances as the “senior black correspondent” on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He is now host of “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.”

Proceeds from the dinner go toward journalism scholarships and awards.

This year’s winners are:

— Carol Lee of the Wall Street Journal, winner of the Aldo Beckman Memorial Award for excellence in White House coverage.

— Matt Viser of the Boston Globe, winner of the Merriman Smith Award for outstanding White House coverage under deadline pressure.

— Norah O’Donnell of CBS News, winner of the Merriman Smith Award for broadcast journalism.

— Terrence McCoy of The Washington Post and Neela Banerjee, John Cushman Jr., David Hasemyer and Lisa Song of InsideClimate, winners of the Edgar A. Poe award, which recognizes excellence in coverage of events or investigative topics of regional or national interest.

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