Every four years, the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner is meant to be a campaign cease-fire, when the presidential nominees share the stage a final time before Election Day and trade warm-hearted jokes.
But this year’s dinner, reflecting the bitter nature of the contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, was hardly jovial, with both candidates exchanging fierce jabs Thursday night that at times appeared to devolve into personal attacks.
Some of Trump’s jokes were so pointed that many in the well-heeled crowd turned on the nominee midway through his remarks and showered him with jeers, an unprecedented act at a white-tie charity dinner that raised more than $6 million for poor children in New York.
Trump and Clinton sat one seat apart for the evening, with New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan the only buffer. And when they entered and took their seats, they did not greet each other or make eye contact, though they did shake hands at the conclusion of the night. Dolan later called his seat “the iciest place on the planet.”
Here’s a look at some of the best – and worst – jokes from both candidates:
– “I know that so many of you in the archdiocese already have a place in your heart for a guy who started out as a carpenter working for his father. I was a carpenter working for mine.”
– “We have proven that we can actually be civil to each other. In fact, just before taking the dais, Hillary accidentally bumped into me and she, very civilly, said: ‘Pardon me.’ And I very politely replied, ‘Let me talk to you about that after I get into office.'”
– “The media is even more biased this year than ever before – ever. You want the proof? Michelle Obama made a speech and everyone loves it, it’s fantastic. My wife, Melania, gives the exact same speech. And people get on her case.”
– “Everyone knows, of course, Hillary’s belief that, ‘It takes a village,’ which only makes sense, after all, in places like Haiti, where she’s taken a number of them.”
– “We’ve learned so much from WikiLeaks. For instance, Hillary believes that it’s vital to deceive the people by having one public policy and a totally different policy in private. . For example, here she is tonight, in public, pretending not to hate Catholics.”
– “People look at the Statue of Liberty, and they see a proud history of a nation of immigrants – a beacon of hope for people around the world. Donald looks at the Statue of Liberty and sees a 4. Maybe a 5, if she loses the torch and tablet and changes her hair.”
– “And if Donald does win, it will be awkward at the annual President’s Day photo, when all the former presidents gather at the White House, and not just with Bill. How is Barack going to get past the Muslim ban?”
“- Now, you notice there is no teleprompter here tonight, which is probably smart, because maybe you saw Donald dismantle his prompter the other day. And I get that. They’re hard to keep up with, and I’m sure it’s even harder when you’re translating from the original Russian.”
– “It is great, also, to see Mayor Bloomberg here. It’s a shame he’s not speaking tonight. I’m curious to hear what a billionaire has to say.”
– “After listening to your speech, I will also enjoy listening to Mike Pence deny that you ever gave it.”
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.