Mitt Romney, Barack Obama to trade jabs at Al Smith dinner
The two presidential candidates took a break from the caustic criticism of the campaign trail to score political points with biting humor last night in New York City.
President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney peeled off the stump Thursday to attend the annual Al Smith Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. During presidential election years, the event brings the candidates to the same stage to trade barbs and self-deprecating zingers as the race enter its final weeks.
The white-tie affair raises millions for the Gov. Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation and is organized by the Catholic Archdiocese of New York to benefit needy children.
More than 1,600 were scheduled to attend the dinner. The menu includes poached lobster tail and dark chocolate tropical fruit cadeau. Tickets start at $2,500.
The diocese hopes to raise $5 million in grants this year. Last year it gave out $2 million in grants.
President Barack Obama also taped an episode of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” while he’s in Manhattan. The show aired late yesterday.
Comedy Central host Jon Stewart pressed Obama over the government’s changing explanation about the Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, according to the Associated Press. When Stewart suggested that even Obama would concede his administration’s coordination and communication had not been “optimal,” Obama said: “If four Americans get killed, it’s not optimal. We’re going to fix it. All of it.”
Romney has questioned Obama’s handling of the matter and his honesty about it to voters. On “The Daily Show,” Obama insisted information was shared with the American people as it came in, the AP said. The attack is under investigation, he said, and “the picture eventually gets filled in.”
Last night’s Smith dinner fell two days after Obama and Romney exchanged heated jabs during their second presidential debate at Hofstra University. After what many observers thought was an inspired performance by Romney, and a lackluster one by the president, in Denver during the first debate, campaign watchers gave the edge to Obama after Tuesday night.
The latest polling shows the race as virtually tied.
This year’s event also come during the same year as New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan has clashed with the president over a federal mandate that insurance cover the cost of contraception for church affiliated institutions, like Catholic colleges and hospitals.
The mandate is part of the president’s health care reform law known as the Affordable Care Act.
More than a dozen archdioceses from around the country have filed lawsuits claiming the contraception mandate would require church leaders to violate religious beliefs to implement the law.
In March during a speech at Holy Trinity Diocesan High School in Hicksville, Dolan called the mandate a “government intrusion into the church.”
The Al Smith Dinner has been a necessary stop for politicians since World War II. The event is named for the unsuccessful Democratic presidential nominee in 1928, who was the first Catholic to run for president. Smith was a four-term governor of New York.