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Gridiron said not the same without Obama

WASHINGTON, March 22 (UPI) -- A decision by U.S. President Barack Obama to skip the Gridiron Club dinner in Washington put a damper on the event, participants said.

Some expressed disappointment that Obama did not attend the annual event Saturday, a star-studded gala thrown by Washington media organizations featuring satirical musical skits performed by journalists and self-deprecating remarks from politicians, The Hill reported.

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"It's sad," presidential historian Stephen Hess told the publication.

Obama said he declined to attend the event to be with his family.

"He's with his family; how can anyone complain when someone chooses to spend time with their family?" said senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, while White House Social Secretary Desiree Rodgers added, "It's family first."

"For some people it might seem silly, but Washington is a town of traditions," former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino told The Hill. "It seemed like a deflating moment."

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