Roast Battle: Al Smith Dinner Edition features Clinton, Trump – and a lot of jokes
Every election year, the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel gives the presidential candidates a chance to present softer versions of their campaigns as they are encouraged to make light-hearted jabs and self-deprecating jokes.
The white-tie event raised over $6 million for Roman Catholic charities and hosted New York City’s elite, such as Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, along with members of the clergy.
Alfred E. Smith IV, the chairman of the dinner, acted as the master of ceremonies and set the tone for the evening.
“Before the dinner started, Trump went to Hillary and asked how you are. She said, ‘I’m fine ‒ now get out of the ladies’ dressing room,’” Smith said.
This is the best thing ever!— josh is a (@JoshLeCash) October 21, 2016
"HILLARY IS SO CORRUPT..." pic.twitter.com/anu48VCx1I
Trump was the first to speak and greeted the audience, saying: “A special hello to all of you in this room who have known and loved me for many, many years.”
“The politicians, they’ve had me to their homes, they’ve introduced me to their children, I’ve become their best friends… They’ve asked for my endorsements and accepted my money,” the Republican nominee said.
Then things took an interesting turn as he added: “Then suddenly decided when I ran for president as a Republican that I was a no good, rotten scoundrel. They forgot about me.”
He concluded that setup with the punchline: “I’m a modest person, in fact, many people tell me that modesty is perhaps my best quality. Even better than my temperament.”
Without hesitation, Trump launched into jokes about his opponent, saying that, despite the heated debate the night before, “Hillary accidentally bumped into me and she very civilly said, ‘Pardon me,’ and I very politely replied, ‘Let me talk to you about that after I get into office.’”
Trump’s jokes about Clinton were biting, such as: “This is the first time ever, ever that Hillary is sitting down and speaking to major corporate leaders and not getting paid for it,” and, “Here’s Hillary in public pretending not to hate Catholics.”
He did offer some more light-hearted jokes about Clinton, saying that if she wins the office “she wants me to be either her ambassador to Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s my choice.”
Trump faced some booed and jeers from the audience, who he acknowledged may have been bigger Clinton fans. The evening offered the candidates not only the opportunity to spend time with each other, he said, but also “the people who are working so hard to get her elected. There they are, the heads of NBC, CNN, CBS, there’s the New York Times over there, and the Washington Post.”
He concluded his portion by saying that everyone in the room can “agree on the need to stand up to anti-Catholic bias.”
Clinton then took the stage and gave a more traditional routine by starting with self-deprecating jokes. “I took a break from my rigorous nap schedule to be here,” she said. She also acknowledged her various corporate speech scandals, saying: “It’s a treat for all of you too because usually I charge a lot for speeches like this.”
In addition, she also poked fun at herself for previously saying that half of Trump’s supporters belong in a “basket of deplorables” by saying: “There are a lot of friendly faces in this room… I just want to put you all in a basket of adorables.”
She followed it up with another self-deprecating joke, saying: “You look so good in your tuxes, or as I refer to them, formal pantsuits.”
However, it wouldn’t be an Al Smith Dinner without her going after her opponent, such as when she said: “There is nothing like sharing a stage with Donald Trump. Donald wanted me drug tested before last night and I am so flattered that Donald thought I used some kind of performance enhancer. And I did, it’s called preparation.”
She also said that after three debates lasting four-and-half hours, she had stood by Trump longer than any of his campaign managers.
“They say Donald doesn’t have any policies,” she said. “I’d like to defend him on this. Donald has issues, serious issues. “
Note that Giuliani wasn't happy even before Hillary's joke started. His face is awful. Like he wasn't even there. pic.twitter.com/QwLdf0FsB2— John Aravosis (@aravosis) October 21, 2016
While neither Trump nor Clinton referenced either of the sex scandals that have dogged both of their campaigns, Clinton did say: “Donald looks at the Statue of Liberty and sees a 4, maybe a 5, if she loses the torch and tablet and changes her hair.”
She doubled down on the jokes about Trump’s treatment of women, saying that Trump used her 30 years in political office against her because “he told Howard Stern, he doesn’t like it when women have been around for more than 35 years.”
Clinton concluded her speech emphasizing the need to avoid hateful rhetoric. “Rhetoric like that makes it harder for us to respect each other.”
“And certainly harder for us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves,” she added.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who had sat between the two, followed Clinton, saying: "I am coming down with cold. For the last hour, I have been sitting in the iciest place on the planet."
The annual dinner began in 1945, the year after New York Governor Alfred E. Smith died. Smith was the first Catholic presidential candidate, running against Herbert Hoover in 1928. Historically, the dinner is the last time the candidates will share a stage before Election Day.