Political Banter 

President Obama and Governor Romney participated in a different type of sparring match on Thursday night, October 18th, when they exchanged some jokes at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation dinner in New York. The yearly event attracted many of the nation's political and media elites who dress-up in their finest tuxedos and formal gowns to help raise money for Catholic charities. 

Both candidates poked fun at themselves and each other in a lighthearted, fun and good-spirited way . . . unlike the campaign. Rumors are circulating that comedian Dennis Miller wrote some of Mitt Romney's jokes, while the president is taking credit for his own material. Late Friday, the White House spokesperson said the president worked on his speech along with his speech writing team.


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Give and Take (Jokes)

 Romney joked about the perception that he and his wife are out of touch because they are rich, saying; "A campaign can require a lot of wardrobe changes; blue jeans in the morning. Perhaps [a] suit for a lunch fundraiser, sport coat for dinner. But it's nice to finally relax and to wear what Ann and I wear around the house." 

He also teased a bit about his religion saying; "People seem to be very curious as to how we prepare for the debates.  Let me tell you what I do. First, refrain from alcohol for 65 years before the debate." 

Media Bias 

Romney also poked fun at the media and the claim many people make about the mainstream media being bias, saying; "I've already seen early reports from tonight's dinner. 'Headline: Obama Embraced by Catholics; Romney Dines with Rich People.'" In addition, Romney said; "Some in the media have a certain way of looking at things. When suddenly I pulled ahead in some of the major polls, what was the headline?  ‘Polls Show Obama Leading From Behind.'"

But I Jest

When it came time to have some fun at the expense of the president, Romney made sure to include a short but humorous poke at the VP, saying; "I was actually hoping the president would bring Joe Biden along this evening, because he’ll laugh at anything." 

Romney then joked that in preparation for the debates he needed to "find the biggest available straw man and then just mercilessly attack it. . . .Big Bird didn't even see it coming." Then, without missing a beat he said; "And, by the way, in the spirit of Sesame Street, the president's remarks tonight are brought to you by the letter O and the number $16 trillion." 

Mitt Romney also spoke about the monthly jobs report, saying; "He [President Obama] knows how to seize the moment, this president. He already has a compelling new campaign slogan: 'You're better off now than you were four weeks ago.'" He also said; "Of course we're down to the final months of the president's term.  As President Obama surveys the Waldorf banquet room with everyone in white tie and finery, you have to wonder what he's thinking: 'So little time, so much to redistribute.'" 

Given that the dinner was to help Catholic charities, Romney included the following in his monologue; "Of course the president has put his own stamp on relations with the church. There have been some awkward moments. Like when the president pulled Pope Benedict aside and shared some advice on how to deal with his critics. He said, 'Look, holy father, whatever the problem is, just blame it on Pope John Paul II.'" 


The Commander-In-Chief became the comedian-in-chief joking about his opponent, saying; "Today I went shopping at some stores in Midtown. I understand Governor Romney went shopping for some stores in Midtown." He also joked; "Tonight I am here with a man whose father was a popular governor, and who knows what it's like to run a major Northeastern state, and who could very well be president someday . . . And I'm hoping it is Andrew Cuomo." 

The president also made fun of the media, but in a different way from Romney, saying; "I particularly want to apologize to Chris Matthews. Four years ago I gave him a thrill up his leg; this time around I gave him a stroke." He also quipped; "Of course the economy's on everybody's minds. The unemployment rate is at its lowest level since I took office. I don't have a joke here. I just thought it would be useful to remind everybody that the unemployment rate is at the lowest it's been since I took office." 


The president joked about himself, saying; "This is the third time that Governor Romney and I have met recently.  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." In keeping with the debate theme, the president went on to say; "Although it turns out millions of Americans focused in on the second debate who didn't focus in on the first debate, and I happen to be one of them." Lastly, the president said; "Of course, there's a lot of things I learned from that experience. For example, I learned that there are worse things that can happen to you on your anniversary than forgetting to buy a gift." 

The president may have been trying to court the "redneck" vote when he made this joke; "And we're getting to that time when folks are making up their minds. Just the other day Honey Boo Boo endorsed me. So that's a big relief." 

In Closing 

Governor Romney made the following closing remarks; "No matter which way the political winds are blowing, what work goes on, day in day out by this organization and you. You answer with calm and willing hearts and service to the poor and care for the sick, in defense and the rights of conscience and in solidarity with the innocent child waiting to be born. You strive to bring God's love in every life." 


For more information, see the following articles: 

2012 Republican National Convention - Speech Highlights: Mitt Romney 

Mitt Romney Calls Harry Reid's Bluff

It's the Economy . . .