The Al Smith Dinner

October 20th, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Al Smith Dinner is a near-mandatory event in election years for presidential candidates. A white-tie fundraiser for Catholic charities in New York, the tone of the evening is light-hearted. Both Obama and Romney were in fine form.

Here Obama’s transcript. Some of my favourite lines:

 Everyone please take your seats otherwise Clint Eastwood will yell at them. …

This is the third time that Governor Romney have met recently. As some of you may have noticed, I had a lot more energy in our second debate. I felt really well rested after the nice long nap I had in the first debate.

Although it turns millions of Americans focused in on the second debate who didn’t focus in on the first debate and I happen to be one of them. I particularly want to apologize to Chris Matthews. Four years ago, I gave him a thrill up his leg; this time around, I gave him a stroke.

Of course, there’s a lot of things I learned from that experience, for example, I learned that there are worse things that can happen to you on your anniversary than forgetting to buy a gift.

Heh, killer line.

I’m still making the most of my time in the city. Earlier today I went shopping at some stores in Midtown. I understand Governor Romney went shopping for some stores in Midtown.

Also heh.

And I have to admit, it can be a grind. Sometimes it feels like this race has dragged on forever, but Paul Ryan assured me that we’ve only been running for two hours and fifty something minutes. …

Ultimately, though, tonight’s not about the disagreements Governor Romney and I may have. It’s what we have in common, beginning with our unusual names. Actually Mitt is his middle name, I wish I could use my middle name.

Classic.

Of course, world affairs are a challenge for every candidate. After — some of you guys remember — after my foreign trip in 2008, I was attacked as a celebrity because I was so popular with our allies overseas. And I have to say I’m impressed with how well Governor Romney has avoided that problem.

I love humourous attack lines.

And Romney:

Now Al, you were right, a campaign can require a lot of wardrobe changes. We — blue jeans in the morning perhaps, suits for a lunch fundraiser, sport coat for dinner, but it’s nice to finally relax and to wear what Ann and I wear around the house.

Superb – confronts the out of touch meme with humour.

Campaigns can be grueling, exhausting. President Obama and are each very lucky to have one person who is always in our corner, someone who we can lean on, and someone who is a comforting presence. Without whom, we wouldn’t be able to go another day. I have my beautiful wife Ann, he has Bill Clinton.

Hilarious.

Of course the president has put his own stamp on relations with the church. There have been some awkward moments. Like when the president pulled Pope Benedict aside to share some advice on how to deal with his critics. He said, “Look Holy Father, whatever the problem is, just blame it on Pope John Paul II.”

Heh.

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14 Responses to “The Al Smith Dinner”

  1. Manolo (12,643 comments) says:

    Obama looked tired and not so relaxed, and yet delivered as the good orator he is. On the other hand, Romney was very, very good with the timing of his lines.

    Chalk up a win for the Governor over the Messiah.

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  2. eszett (2,272 comments) says:

    Oh dear, Manolo. You really, really need to chill.

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  3. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    Check out the video on Youtube (about 10min each). Romney was much funnier.

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  4. Sonny Blount (1,829 comments) says:

    The excitement of the race is past. It’s over, Romney has won, Barry is gone.

    Now its just whether we get a landslide and if the GOP can also take the Senate to go with Congress and the Presidency.

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  5. eszett (2,272 comments) says:

    @EWS, yeah, right, that’s your neutral, unbiased opinion.

    You obama-haters are comedians, all right

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  6. flipper (3,274 comments) says:

    Romney 6
    Obama 4

    Given the tension betweern Obama and RC church, it was great entertainment for anyone with an interest in politics.

    Your use of Obama lines in your review was overdone. The paucity of your Romney lines robbed your review of balance and entertainment.
    Not one of your better efforts DPF.

    The reference to Pontiff JP 2 was to Obama’s well known (by most) propensity, after four years in office, to continue to blame Bush for the US’s current economic problerms.

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  7. tom hunter (4,012 comments) says:

    Like all such efforts, it’s better to see the delivery than the transcript, and they were both very good.

    Here’s the thing, if their writers can cook this sort of stuff up, why do they not do it on the campaign trail more often? In many cases – not all – the barbs placed could make the same points.

    Not that I want any political campaign to completely turn into a laugh-fest (some are perfectly capable of doing that while being “serious”), but it would ease the bitterness.

    Oh – and eszett, while that’s a fair point I don’t recall many sufferers of BDS making nice comments about some of his similar speeches, which were very self-deprecating and funny, and that includes the one for the unveiling of his portrait in the White House long after he’d left the Presidency.

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  8. Fletch (5,727 comments) says:

    Romney totally killed, with lines like –

    “in the spirit of Sesame Street, the presidents remarks are brought to you by the letter ‘O’, and the number 16 trillion”…

    This references the Obama teams Sesame Street ads, after Romney said he would shut funding to PBS (it only gets 12% of govt funding anyway, so can well afford it).

    Also love the swipe at Obama regarding St Peter being told, “if you got a Church, you didn’t build that”

    Romney also took a swipe at the media –

    …now I never suggest that the — that the press is biased. I recognize that 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 no one else finds out about it.

    So true.

    Romney was also very gracious in his closing remarks –

    We have very fundamental and sound principles that guide both the president and me. He — he and I, of course, both feel the pressures and tensions of a — of a close contest. It would be easy to let a healthy competition give way to the person on the penny, but fortunately we don’t carry the burden of — of disliking one another.

    Our president has had some very fine and gracious moments. Don’t tell anyone I said so, but 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’s how it is for me. There’s more to life than politics.

    Watch his speech here –

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  9. eszett (2,272 comments) says:

    Oh – and eszett, while that’s a fair point I don’t recall many sufferers of BDS making nice comments about some of his similar speeches, which were very self-deprecating and funny, and that includes the one for the unveiling of his portrait in the White House long after he’d left the Presidency.

    Your standard line again, tom: “oh but someone on the left did it as well”
    As if that is some sort of justification.

    And actually a lot on the left who commented positively on that speech and that it was funny.

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  10. tom hunter (4,012 comments) says:

    “oh but someone on the left did it as well”

    I’m simply ensuring that people understand that it’s balanced out – just in case your crack about “obama-haters” might leave the impression that there were not (and are not) “bush-haters” equally lacking in a sense of proportion and humour.

    And I’m being generous with my use of the word “balanced”, since I ran into untold numbers of BDS people several years ago – both online and offline, often with people who seemed perfectly normal in all other ways – compared to the number of solid ‘obama-haters’ that exist now.

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  11. eszett (2,272 comments) says:

    Yes, of course tom, the left is always sooooooo much worse than the right. *yawn*
    Nothing to do with your “slight” bias to the right, does it?

    Maybe NZ is a more left leaning country, so you will find more lefties than righties. What was the poll the other day, 70% in NZ would vote for Obama? I don’t think the percentage of “haters” on the left is higher than on the right.

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  12. Ed Snack (1,540 comments) says:

    Eszett, NZ’ers would only vote that way because of the totally distorted way that Obama and Romney are presented here by our joke media. Face, for a man who came to the presidency as “the great united”, he’s turned out to be the most divide and racist president since the confederacy. I don’t hate Obama, I very actively dislike what has and often hasn’t done. Personal hate is for the left, I don’t doubt that you hate Romney, hate him for himself and for presuming to challenge “the One”, and that’s the whole story of this campaign, really. Did you see the latest Obama ads, “Romney is not one of us”, can you get more divisive than to invoke the “other” in such explicit terms.

    What I can’t understand though, is why people would support him after his rank failures, evasions, and general incompetency. What positive things could one hope for in a second term ? Even Obama himself can’t give a coherent view of his “vision”, except platitudes like “hiring 100,000 teachers”, and given that the states employ teachers anyway and he gives no method by which anyone would pay for these “teachers” except a vague wand-wave at “taxing the 1%”, which wouldn’t even make a start on the level of deficits his administration is running. But go ahead, explain the appeal.

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  13. ross69 (3,645 comments) says:

    Romney: “My job is to lay out a positive vision for the future of the country…”

    Undoubtedly the funniest line all night.

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  14. Left Right and Centre (2,397 comments) says:

    Um… aren’t the Republicans, for eg, anti-gay, pro religion, pro guns, anti abortions, anti sex workers?

    They make every NZ political party look as far left as a Green Party if lead by Minto, Ken Mair, Penny Bright and Sue Bradford.

    I had to laugh at the Romney Sesame Street crack though. That’s gold.

    Was Mitch wearing one of his Cosco shirts?

    There’s a lot of weirdo yanks that are every bit as scary as Islamic folks. I reckon most of em vote Republican.

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