Paul Ryan has been widely criticized for his reactions to Donald Trump. But the gloves came off during the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner. The Speaker of the House got in some very cutting jokes about the president of the United States during the event.
Ryan was the keynote speaker at the Al Smith Dinner in New York City yesterday. Smith was the first Catholic to be the presidential nominee of a major party. He was known for having a great sense of humor, so the annual charity dinner encourages speakers to “poke fun at a political issue, an opponent or themselves.”
And Ryan did not hold back. Right out of the gate, Ryan told the audience to stop applauding because “you sound like the Cabinet when Donald Trump walks into the room,” according to USA Today.
Ryan also brought up last year’s Al Smith Dinner. Trump and Hillary Clinton famously spoke at the charity event last year, and many thought Trump’s jokes about Clinton went too far. People got offended and even booed the then-nominee.
“Well, thank God he’s learned his lesson,” Ryan hilariously quipped.
Ryan went on to joke about how he has to go through Twitter all the time “to see which tweets I will have to pretend I didn’t see later on” and how former Speaker John Boehner calls him just to laugh at him. He added that the press never gives the White House enough credit. The president has created so many jobs. Just look at the White House staff!
Ryan also joked about Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Trump’s reported feud, Steve Bannon, the investigation into Trump’s alleged ties to Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, and more.
Not all of Ryan’s jokes were aimed at himself or the Republican Party, though. He also got in some good barbs about Clinton and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. According to the Washington Post, Ryan joked that Schumer isn’t so anti-Trump because of his policies, but because he just lost a major donor. He also explained that when people ask “What’s it like to work every day with an abrasive New Yorker, with a loud mouth,” he says that Schumer’s “not all bad” after you know him, rather than talking about Trump.
However, many of the jokes were ultimately about Trump. And Trump and Ryan do have a strange relationship. For the most part, the house speaker supports the president. While he has criticized the president a number of times, such as during the campaign and after Charlottesville, Ryan usually shies away from publicly disagreeing with or criticizing Trump. And he’s been bashed for it. Many don’t think Ryan stands up to Trump enough, and he has been slammed for not showing enough backbone. So it was interesting to see Ryan finally let loose a little.
Of course, the Al Smith dinner is all in good fun. Ryan wasn’t actually attacking the president.
Ultimately, Ryan gave a really funny speech, and he predicted how the press would react to it.
“When you read the papers tomorrow, everyone’s going to report this thing differently,” he said. “Breitbart is going to lead with: ‘Ryan slams the President among liberal elites.’ The New York Times is going to report: ‘Ryan defends the President in a state Hillary won.’ And the President will tweet: ‘300,000 at Al Smith dinner cheer mention of my name.'”
[Featured Image by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images]