President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney found themselves in the same room again on Thursday, but this time, instead of podiums, moderators, and tension between them, there was food, a Catholic Cardinal, and plenty of jokes.
“I’m pleased that the president is here,” Romney joked to start his speech. “We were chatting pleasantly this evening as if Tuesday (the last debate) night never happened.”
The race for the White House is a taxing one, with nearly every speech the president or challenger gives subject to scrutiny, but Thursday’s Al Smith Dinner offered a break from the routine. ABC News reports that Obama and Romney both attended the annual event at which candidates often roast themselves for the sake of a good cause, raising money for Catholic charities in honor of former New York Gov. Al Smith, the first Catholic presidential candidate.
The Ticket reports that the president had just as many good lines as Romney, though his routine was a bit more self-deprecating.
“This is the third time that Gov. Romney and I have met recently,” Obama said. “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.”
Romney, often criticized for being out of touch, had a little fun at his own expense at the formal event where tuxedo’s were the norm.
“It’s nice to finally relax and wear what Ann and I wear around the house,” Romney joked.
The president has had his differences with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Catholic Archbishop of New York and head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, but the sometimes rough relationship didn’t seem to be an issue Thursday night.
Both Obama and Romney traded in their tuxedos and jokes for their more traditional campaign looks and stump speeches as both returned to campaigning on Friday.
After all, as Obama joked, election day is right around the corner.
“In less than three weeks voters in states like Ohio, Virginia and Florida will decide this incredibly important election,” Obama said. “Which begs the question: What are we doing here?”
Did you enjoy seeing the candidates take a break from the near-constant attacks of the campaign trail?