Tonight, Obama and Romney compete for laughs

October 18, 2012

NEW YORK – On the debate stage two nights ago, President Obama and Mitt Romney repeatedly interrupted each other and called the other a liar in a high-pressure round of verbal fisticuffs. On Thursday night, they’ll try to laugh it off as they share the stage again in white-tie tuxedos to deliver comedic roasts.

The cease-fire will come at the Alfred E. Smith Dinner, the Catholic Archdiocese of New York’s annual charity benefit that every four years hosts the presidential candidates, who make fun of themselves and their opponents in playful speeches.

This will be Obama’s second appearance at the event; he and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) spoke in 2008.

Aides to Obama and Romney would not reveal much about their prepared routines, to be delivered Thursday evening at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in midtown Manhattan. “Stay tuned,” Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters traveling with the president aboard Air Force One.

Psaki, as she had in the run-up to the presidential debates, tried to raise expectations for the Republican nominee.

“Mitt Romney has practiced for longer than any presidential candidate in history for tonight, and we expect him to be drop-on-the-floor funny,” Psaki said. “And the president will make his way through.”

A Romney adviser said his candidate’s speech would be “lighthearted, keeping with tradition.” Asked to elaborate further, however, he demurred: “You’ll have to wait and hear the speech.”

Philip Rucker is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, where he has reported since 2005.
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Felicia Sonmez · October 18, 2012