Highlights of Clinton and Trump at Al Smith Dinner
Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump at the Al Smith charity dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan on Thursday.
DAMON WINTER / THE NEW YORK TIMES
By ASHLEY PARKER and MATT FLEGENHEIMER
OCTOBER 20, 2016
Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trumpappeared together Thursday night for a ritzy gathering, delivering remarks at the white-tie Al Smith charity dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan.
In most presidential campaigns, the dinner, which benefits Roman Catholic charities, functions as a welcome respite, a forum for levity and self-deprecation in the throes of a heated election.
This year, it just so happens that two New Yorkers can also be found at the top of the ballot.
Here are the highlights:
• And so they came, in tails and fuchsia. The introduction of Melania Trump (sans pussybow), then Mrs. Clinton (to cheers and applause), then Mr. Trump (to slightly less effusive cheers, and scattered boos).
But the silver lining, at least to start: Mr. Trump was greeted far more warmly than Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was booed like Santa at an Eagles game.
• Just like in the last two debates, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump did not shake hands. Instead they beamed and ignored one another, until the evening’s M.C., Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the archbishop of New York, performed a veritable act of God — inserting himself between the two rivals, with no physical altercation.
• Alfred E. Smith IV, the chairman of the dinner, seemed to offer a preview of what may await Mr. Trump as he tries to return to New York society life should he not win the White House in November.
“Before the dinner started, Trump went to Hillary and asked how are you,” Mr. Smith said, setting up the punch line. “She said, ‘I’m fine — now get out of the ladies’ dressing room.’”
• After the king crab and tournedos had been served, Mr. Smith returned to his favorite comedic villains — The Trump team.
On former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who is now a senior adviser on Mr. Trump’s campaign: “We have the lights just right to make sure you’ll be in Donald Trump’s shadow all night.”
And on Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who is running Mr. Trump’s transition effort: “Governor Christie was supposed to be here but he got stuck in bridge traffic.”
Finally, he turned the podium over to Mr. Trump. “No matter how the coin toss ended, our next speaker was going to say it was rigged,” Mr. Smith said, to laughter. “Donald, the microphone is yours and it’s working.”
• Mr. Trump seemed to miss the self-deprecation memo, at one point ending a sort-of-joke, comparing his Fifth Avenue tower to that of Cardinal Dolan’s — “I built mine with my own beautifully formed hands, whereas his was built with the hands of God” — by turning to the archbishop and asking, almost in earnest, “Nobody can compete with God, is that correct?”
But he hit his stride when he turned his attention to his Democratic rival. He joked that this intimate dinner with friends was, “as Hillary calls it, her largest crowd of the season.” And teased that Thursday evening marked, “The first time Hillary is sitting down and speaking to major corporate leaders and not getting paid for it.”
• At least one of Mr. Trump’s usual rivals got a reprieve — Rosie O’Donnell — if only by comparison.
“Last night I called Hillary ‘a nasty woman’” Mr. Trump said, reprising a line from Wednesday’s debate that many found sexist and offensive. “But this stuff is all relative. After listening to Hillary rattle on and on and on, I don’t think so badly of Rosie O’Donnell anymore. In fact, I’m actually starting to like Rosie a lot.”
•After delivering a joke about his wife’s speech at the Republican National Convention that lifted lines from Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech that was widely praised — “My wife Melania gives the exact same speech and people get on her case, and I don’t get it!” — Mr. Trump descended into a series of dark jokes.
“Here she is in public, pretending not to hate Catholics,” Mr. Trump said, one of several quips that, near the end of his speech, led to him getting booed and jeered.