President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney served up a series of one-liners Thursday night at the 67th annual Alfred E. Smith dinner.
The white-tie event raises money for the eponymous foundation which provides grants to Catholic healthcare programs in the New York area, while bringing out heavy-weights in New York City politics, business and media to watch the candidates take turns roasting each other.
Al Smith, great grandson of Alfred E. Smith and the evening’s master of ceremonies, set the tone when he welcomed all 1,640 guests giving a special nod to all the accomplished women in the room.
“It’s good to see you made it out of those binders,” Smith cracked, referencing Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s now much discussed comment in Tuesday night’s debate.
Romney said he and the president had been chatting pleasantly earlier that evening, “as if Tuesday night never happened.”
He also told guests not to be surprised if the president mentions the recent monthly jobs report where the unemployment rate dipped below 8 percent, saying this president knows how to seize the moment, “He already has a compelling new campaign slogan: You're better off now than you were four weeks ago.”
When the president took to the podium, he acknowledged that the economy was on everyone’s mind and said, “the unemployment rate at its lowest level since I took office.”
“I don't have a joke here,” said Obama. “I just thought it would be useful to remind everybody that the unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since I took office.”
Obama also talked about the vital role of the swing states in this election.
“In less than three weeks, voters in states like Ohio, Virginia and Florida will decide this incredibly important election, which begs the question, why are we here?”
Brigid Bergin is the City Hall reporter for WNYC. She covers city politics, including the upcoming mayoral race. She’s also traveled to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to report on the trial of the five men accused of plotting the September 11th terror attacks.
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