Bushes Attend Secretive Alfalfa Club Dinner

President Bush ventured out of the White House on a chilly Saturday night to a Washington hotel warmed by a roast of bigwig guests.

The president and his wife, Laura, took a short motorcade ride to a hotel, just blocks from the White House, to attend to the Alfalfa Club dinner, an annual event where Washington political and business leaders gather to give humorous speeches about the goings-on in the world.

Also invited were Bush's parents, former President George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush. The club is already a family affair — the former president's father, Prescott Bush, once headed the club, and both Presidents Bush have also served as Alfalfa Club chief executives.

A number of Cabinet officers and White House staffers, including press secretary Tony Snow, also attended the black-tie dinner at the Capital Hilton Hotel.

The event was closed to news media coverage.

The club is named after the alfalfa plant because its roots will range far afield to reach liquid refreshment. Its sole task is holding the annual dinner. Founded in 1913, the club was off-limits to women until 1994 when then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton attended the event with President Clinton.

Earlier Saturday, the president took a mountain bike ride on the grounds of a Secret Service training facility in Beltsville, Md., near Washington. He spent the afternoon in the White House as tens of thousands marched on the National Mall in an anti-war demonstration.

In the morning, Bush reaffirmed his commitment to his planned troop increase in a telephone conversation with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Next week, Bush is traveling to Peoria, Ill., and New York City to talk about the economy, a follow-up to his State of the Union address on Tuesday.