By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country
President Barack Obama will speak at next Thursday's annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, according to event organizers and a White House aide. The breakfast has drawn the sitting U.S. president every year since the Eisenhower administration, according to an organizer who would speak about the event only on background. It's customary for the president to address the gathering. The event's planners are forbidden to talk publicly about the breakfast, which is expected to draw about 4,000 guests--including a smattering of heads of state--to the Hilton Washington's ballroom next week.
"There's excitement about Obama's because it's not the first breakfast he's attended," said one organizer. "He's not coming in cold."
In addition to the presidential address, the National Prayer Breakfast features scripture reading, prayers, and a keynote speaker, all selected by a bipartisan congressional committee. Recent keynoters include rock star Bono and Human Genome Project leader Francis Collins.
Organizers said this year's speaker is confirmed but declined to disclose the person's identity.
The White House press office declined to comment, but an Obama aide said the president "is confirmed to attend and it is tradition that the president will address the group."
Corrected on 02/03/09: An earlier version of this article misidentified the name of the hotel where the National Prayer Breakfast will be held. The hotel is the Hilton Washington.