It was an awkward setup: The two major-party candidates for president attending a charity dinner in which they were supposed to tell lighthearted jokes about each other just 24 hours after a heated debate.
Speaking first at the Al Smith dinner in New York City on Thursday night — a dinner that benefits Catholic charities — Donald Trump took the opportunity to unleash a torrent of very-not-lighthearted jokes about Hillary Clinton. Many of them didn't even seem intended to evoke laughs so much as controversy. They were the kind of thing you'd expect at a Trump rally, in fact.
They ranged from Clinton hating Catholics to Clinton being corrupt to the Clinton Foundation's alleged misdeeds in its relief efforts in Haiti.
- “Last night, I called Hillary a nasty woman, but this stuff is all relative. After listening to Hillary rattle on and on and on, I don’t think so badly of Rosie O’Donnell anymore.”
- “Now I’m told Hillary went to confession before tonight’s event, but the priest was having a hard time when he asked her about her sins, and she said she couldn’t remember 39 times.”
- “Hillary is so corrupt, she got kicked off the Watergate Commission. How corrupt do you have to be to get kicked off the Watergate Commission?”
- “We’ve learned so much from WikiLeaks. For instance, Hillary believes that it’s vital to deceive the people by having one public policy and a totally different policy in private. … For example, here she is tonight, in public, pretending not to hate Catholics."
- “Everyone knows of course, Hillary’s belief that 'It takes a village,' which only makes sense — after all, in places like Haiti, where she’s taken a number of them."
- “According to her sworn testimony, Hillary has forgot more things than most of us will ever, ever know.”
By the end, Trump was getting booed regularly.
I've been to this dinner many times. Never saw anyone get booed this way during a speech.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) October 21, 2016
Trump is supposed to be making jokes about himself. But he's nearly universally making jokes or statements attacking Clinton.
— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) October 21, 2016
This is off the rails. OY.
— Michael Barbaro (@mikiebarb) October 21, 2016
Trump now being booed - loudly - for saying Clinton is "pretending not to hate Catholics." Someone yelled "finish."
— Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN) October 21, 2016
Donald Trump is the only person I've ever seen get booed at a charity dinner...
— Matt Gorman (@mattsgorman) October 21, 2016
Look, these dinners are, in part, roasts. The candidates are supposed to poke fun at each other. And Clinton certainly did that in her remarks, even if they didn't draw too many laughs.
But Trump's lines seemed to go beyond the good-natured, biting humor that comes with these dinners. And the audience reacted accordingly.