The White House made clear today that President Obama isn’t interested in attending the giant American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington beginning a week from Sunday.
Obama last addressed the conference in 2012, when he was stumping for re-election votes.
In 2013, Vice President Joe Biden address AIPAC. Biden is heading to Uruguay “the first week in March,” according to the White House, for their presidential inauguration and will also hold meetings in Guatemala.
The conference runs March 1-3 at the convention center in D.C. It coincides with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3 address to a joint session of Congress. That’s also the lobbying day of the conference, when thousands of pro-Israel activists will flood Capitol Hill.
Netanyahu will also directly address AIPAC while in town.
Last week, the State Department said Secretary of State John Kerry, who spoke at the conference last year, will be out of town at an undetermined location.
“We are still in discussions with AIPAC about what sort of administration representation they’ll have at the meeting,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters today. “You’ll recall that, you know, there were previous — in previous years there have been administration representatives, including the president on at least one occasion I can think of off the top of my head, but we’re still evaluating the invitation and as soon as we have some more information about who will be available to speak to the group I will let you all know.”
Obama spoke to the conference as a senator in 2008, when he was stumping for votes, and as president in 2011 in addition to 2012.
Kerry speech’s last year, which received a lukewarm reception, extolled the brilliance of Obama’s Iran negotiating plans in an address that began 45 minutes late.
Asked directly if Obama was considering going to AIPAC this year, Earnest replied, “Not that I’m aware of.”
Democrats confirmed to speak at the conference this year include longtime supporters of Israel and critics of the administration’s policy on Iran and ISIS.
Dem Speakers include Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.).