Funny men: Romney and Obama
Oct 18, 2012 / 9:04 am
President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney put aside campaign vitriol for laughs Thursday when they address the venerable Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, a New York City white tie gala that has been a required stop for many politicians since the end of World War II.
In keeping with tradition, both candidates will leave behind the scowling predictions of doom should their opponent win the Nov. 6 election and make comedic after-dinner speaches for the fundraising event organized by the Catholic Archdiocese of New York to benefit needy children. That was the case almost precisely four years ago when Obama and Republican presidential contender John McCain poked fun at themselves and one another a day after an intense presidential debate at Hofstra University.
The two candidates are running neck and neck in the polls and Obama is hoping his strong debate performance Tuesday will help him regain the momentum he lost following his poor showing in the first debate two weeks earlier.
As in 2008, this year's dinner also falls shortly after a fiery and confrontational presidential debate at Hofstra.
The dinner is overseen by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the spiritual leader of the Archdiocese of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has clashed with the Obama administration over contraception provisions in the new health care law. Dolan has said he received "stacks of mail" protesting the dinner invitation to Obama. But Dolan has sought to avoid playing political favourites. He delivered benedictions at both the Republican and Democratic national conventions this summer.
The dinner is Romney's only public event Thursday. Obama was campaigning in New Hampshire, one of a handful of closely fought "battleground" states in the election, before limbering up for his dinner speech with an appearance on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show."
The Al Smith dinner is named for the former four-term governor of New York who was the unsuccessful 1928 Democratic presidential candidate and the first Catholic to run for president. His great-grandson, Alfred W. Smith IV, is the dinner's master of ceremonies.
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