WASHINGTON, October 19, 2012 ― At the Alfred Smith Foundation dinner, an annual NYC event that this year will raise five million dollars for Roman Catholic Charities for needy children in the New York area, Mitt Romney and President Obama shared the dais, separated by Cardinal Dolan. As they took the microphone (Governor Romney first), they tossed one-liners, poking fun at each other, singling out some guests in attendance. Mitt Romney tossed a few at the media, at one time saying:
“I never suggest that the press is biased, I recognize they have their job to do and I have my job to do. My job is to lay out a positive vision for the future of the country and their job is to make sure nobody finds out about it.”
We have seen a lot of President Obama on stage, telling jokes, singing a bit of Al Green, and letting his guard down, allowing his personality to shine through. It was interesting to see Romney in a similar light, take the stage and have some fun, showing a side of him hinted at by his beautifully attired wife, Ann Romney, but that we have yet to really see.
The first hint this was going to be special fun was when the Governor, resplendent and very handsome in a perfectly fitting white tie tuxedo said that “A campaign can require a lot of wardrobe changes, blue jeans in the morning perhaps, a suit for lunch fund raiser, sport coat for dinner, but it is nice to finally relax and wear what Ann and I wear around the house.”
The Al Smith dinner, named in honor of former New York Governor Al Smith, who was the first Catholic presidential candidate, is a traditional amongst candidates, letting them have a bit of fun as they roast each other and offer some wry observations about themselves, the campaign, and their opponents.
In reference to the campaign that both were taking a break from, President Obama offered, “In less than three weeks voters in states like Ohio, Virginia and Florida will decide this incredibly important election, which begs the question: What are we doing here?”
One could not watch this event without remembering the President and Governor Romney circling the debate floor like lions ready to charge, just 48 hours ago.
“I am pleased that the president is here,” Romney said. “We were chatting pleasantly this evening as though Tuesday never happened, I credit that to the Cardinal, it has taken New York’s highest spiritual authority to get us back on our best behavior.”
Which he followed with “I was actually hoping the President would bring Joe Biden along as he will laugh at anything,” a comment that got the second loudest response and had the swanks top hatting it at the Waldorf-Astoria New York hooting with laughter, clapping and occasionally whistling.
Referencing not only the Administration’s head butting with the Catholic church but also his own Mormonism, Romney said “I am sure the cardinal has no hard feelings as we see if the president’s wine turns into water, or for that matter if my water turns into wine.”
Mormons do not drink.
Poking some fun at himself, Romney said, “I am pleased to once again see Governor Cuomo who is already being talked about for higher office. A very impressive fellow, he may be getting a little ahead of himself. Let me get this straight, the man has put one term into being a governor and he has a father who was a governor and he thinks that is enough to run for president!”
Stating his admiration for the Catholic Church, Romney was provoked an almost audible gasp following by yet another hearty laugh when he said, “I have special admiration for the apostle St. Peter to whom it is said “Upon this rock I will build my church,” which is all the more inspiring because of all the skeptics, and scoffers who said if you got a church you did not build that. “
Referencing back to the debate, Romney stated that a lot of people were curious as to his debate preparations, to which he said, “I Find the biggest available straw man and mercifully attack it; Big Bird didn’t even see it coming.”
He followed that with, “In the spirit of Sesame Street tonight, the president’s remarks are brought to you by the letter O and the number 16 Trillion.”
Recognizing the controversy of Vice President Biden’s bizarre behavior at the VP debate, Romney said, “We got a big dose of the Biden charm last week, Ill tell you that. In his debate with Paul Ryan I am not sure that all that carrying on had quite the effect Joe intended, because afterward I heard from the federal election commission [that] from now on when he appears on TV, there is a recording of me saying ‘I am Mitt Romney and I approve this message.’”
Mr. Obama touched on the media as well, referring to Hardball’s Chris Matthews shock following the first debate, saying “Four years ago I gave him a thrill up his leg; this year I gave him a stroke.”
In closing Romney showed his mettle saying, “We have very fundamental and sound principals that guide both the President and me. He and I feel the pressures and tensions of a close contest. It would be easy to let a healthy competition give way to the personal and the petty, but fortunately we do not carry the burden of disliking each other. Our president has had some fine and gracious moments; don’t tell anyone I said so. “
“Our 44th President has many gifts and a beautiful family that would make any man proud. In our country, you can oppose someone in politics and make a confident case against their policies without any ill will and that is the way it is for me. There is more to life than politics.“
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