Every four years, in the final stretch of the presidential campaign, the two candidates take a break from their punishing schedules to attend the Alfred E. Smith dinner, a white-tie event where they roast themselves and each other while raising money for Catholic charities.
In past years, the dinner has acted as a short reprieve from the sometimes vicious mudslinging that goes on this close to Election Day, but as it has been in so many ways, this year was an exception.
Republican nominee Donald Trump was booed for the biting remarks he delivered to the room of Catholic leaders, socialites and reporters. Instead of the traditional kind of jokes that are made at the event, some of his remarks were virtually indistinguishable from those delivered in his stump speeches.
“Hillary believes it’s vital to deceive the people by having one public policy, and a totally different policy in private. That’s OK,” he said as the crowd began booing. “I don’t know who they’re angry at, Hillary, you or I?”
Trump forged on, undeterred. “For example, here she is tonight in public, pretending not to hate Catholics,” he said, to more gales of boos, referring to remarks Clinton communications manager Jennifer Palmieri made about Catholics in some of the hacked emails recently made public by Wikileaks.
Trump did have one joke that landed. “The media is even more biased this year than ever before. Ever. You want the proof?” he asked. “Michelle Obama gives a speech, and everyone loves it, it’s fantastic; they think she’s absolutely great. My wife Melania gives the exact same speech and people get on her case. And I don’t get it! I don’t know why.”
Clinton, for her part, alternated between the expressions of mild amusement and thinly veiled disdain she perfected over the course of the last three debates. When it was her turn to speak, the Democrat poked fun at herself and Trump in equal measure. “Usually I charge a lot for speeches like this,” she told the crowd, before marveling at her opponent. “It’s amazing I’m up here after Donald. I didn’t think he’d be OK with a peaceful transition of power.”
Hillary Clinton Delivers Speech at Alfred E. Smith Dinner