The Al Smith Dinner tonight was the last joint campaign event with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and her Republican opponent. It’s a formal dinner roast, held annually since 1945 in honor of the first Catholic presidential nominee Al Smith to raise money for charity. The event is all about the two candidates making some self-deprecating jokes, roasting their opponent and entertaining the crowd at the end of the endlessly long general election campaign.
Donald Trump completely missed the memo. The Republican nominee became the first candidate ever (or possibly speaker ever) booed openly at the Al Smith Dinner. Just like in a debate, Trump started off decently and it all went downhill quickly from there as the humorless Republican skipped jokes. When he opted for naked political attacks reminiscent of the ugly second debate, boo birds arrived:
Trump said Clinton “was so corrupt she got kicked off the Watergate commission.” He said the “economy is busted, the government is corrupt.” He said he was she may have only found out about her invitation to the dinner “through the wonder of WikiLeaks.” The crowd began to tighten up with some booing audible on the television broadcast.
Trump said Clinton is totally different in private than she is in public. “Tonight in public she is pretending not to hate Catholics,” a reference to some campaign staffer emails discovered through WikiLeaks.
Pundits noticed. Guest of honor Cardinal Timothy Dolan was visibly in agony while Trump spoke, because of the brutal nature of the Republican’s low blows.
Now that Trump’s con has grown old, they’re already predicting exactly how the Republican is going to spin this latest epic fail by the short-fingered candidate, who did at least manage to make fun of his tiny hands, before proving that he’s got a terrible sense of humor or a worse speechwriter:
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) October 21, 2016
Does Meredith McIver even exist in real life? In fairness, Trump did have one funny moment, tinged in sadness, which was when he roasted his own wife, Melania, over the plagiarized convention speech that consumed his Republican convention. It’s the first time where he completely absolved her of blame in public, so in that sense it was a relief.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton followed Trump’s horrid performance by making an actually funny speech that had the crowd into it, while making some pundit’s tongues wag over her pointed political jokes, while others rained plaudits on her comfortable demeanor. It was pretty easy to pick out Hillary’s funniest line of the night too:
“After listening to your speech,” she said, “I will also enjoy listening to Mike Pence deny you ever gave it.”
Clinton stayed for 30 minutes after the speeches ended, working the room like a rockstar.
— Sally Kohn (@sallykohn) October 21, 2016
Trump and his wife Melania departed immediately.
Rather than single out any particular moment, here’s a video of the entire Al Smith Dinner, so you can enjoy Hillary Clinton’s entire performance if you need a pick me up. It starts at the 1 hour, 33 minutes.
If you aren’t looking for a laugh, just watch Trump’s horrid attempt at humor at the 1 hour, 14 minutes mark here:
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition