Every year the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York City is a night for elite politicians, media figures, and clergyman to come together for fun and humorous speeches in the name of Catholic charity.
But every four years the Al Smith dinner plays host to the two presidential candidates — who traditionally roast each other lightly with gentle jabs and make self-deprecating jokes.
But as my colleague Andrew Prokop observed, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s speeches weren’t anything like Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s lighthearted remarks from four years ago.
No — with two incredibly polarized candidates, this year was awkward and at times cringeworthy.
Here are the transcripts from Trump and Clinton’s speeches.
Donald Trump’s speech
Trump: Thank you, Al. Wow, that was good. I want to thank your eminence. We love it, Gov. Cuomo, great senators. Hi, Chuck.
He used to love me when I was a Democrat, you know.
Mayor de Blasio, wherever you are. Where is Mayor de Blasio? In the old days, I would have known him very well, but I have not been doing so much of the real estate anymore. I want to thank Al Smith. Just a fantastic job you do at the dinner, and congratulations on a record.
And a special hello to all of you in this room who have known and loved me for many, many years. The politicians. They have had me to their homes. They have introduced me to their children. I have become their best friends in many instances. They have asked for my endorsements, and they always wanted my money. They even called me really a dear, dear friend. But suddenly, when I ran for president as a Republican, they decided I have always been a no-good, rotten, disgusting scoundrel, and they totally forgot about me. But that's okay.
You know, they say when you do this kind of event, you always start out with a self-deprecating joke. Some people think this would be tough for me, but the truth is I am actually a modest person, very modest. It is true. In fact, many people tell me that modesty is perhaps my best quality — even better than my temperament.
You know, Cardinal Dolan and I have some things in common. For instance, we both run impressive properties on Fifth Avenue. Of course, his is much more impressive than mine. That's because I built mine with my own beautifully formed hands, while his was built with the hands of God, and nobody can compete with God, is that correct? Nobody, right?
That's right. It's great to be here with a thousand wonderful people, or as I call it, a small, intimate dinner with some friends. Or as Hillary calls it, her largest crowd of the season. This is corny stuff.
I do recognize that I come into this event with a little bit of an advantage. I know that so many of you in the archdiocese already have a place in your heart for a guy who started out as a carpenter working for his father. I was a carpenter working for my father.
It's true. Not for a long period of time, but about three weeks. What's great about the Al Smith dinner is that even in the rough-and-tumble world of a really hard-fought campaign — in fact, I don't know if you know, Hillary, but last night they said that was the most vicious debate in the history of politics, presidential debate — the most vicious.
Are we supposed to be proud of that? But we did say it, and I am trying to think back to Lincoln. I don't know if they can really speak to that, but the candidates have some lighthearted moments together, which is true. I have no doubt that Hillary is going to laugh quite a bit tonight. Sometimes even at an appropriate moment.
And even tonight, with all of the heated back and forth between my opponent and me at the debate last night, we have proven that we can actually be civil to each other. In fact, just before taking the dais, Hillary accidentally bumped into me, and she very civilly said, "Pardon me."
And I very politely replied, "Let me talk to you about that after I get into office."
Just kidding, just kidding.
And Hillary was very gracious. She said that somehow if she gets elected, she wants me to be, without question, either ambassador to Iraq or to Afghanistan. It's my choice.
But one of the things I noticed tonight, and I've known Hillary for a long time, is this is the first time ever that Hillary Clinton is sitting down and speaking to major corporate leaders and not getting paid for it.
It's true. You know, 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. In fact, I am actually starting to like Rosie a lot.
These events gave not only the candidates a chance to be with each other in a very social setting; it also allows the candidates the opportunity to meet the other candidate's team. I know Hillary met my campaign manager, and I got a chance to meet the people who are working so hard to get her elected. There they are, the heads of NBC, CNN, CBS, ABC. There is the New York Times right over there, and the Washington Post. They are working overtime.
This one is going to get me in trouble. Not with Hillary. You know, the president told me to stop whining, but I really have to say, the media is even more biased this year than ever before. You want the proof? Michelle Obama gives a speech, and everyone loves it. It's fantastic. They think she is absolutely great. My wife, Melania, gives the exact same speech and people get on her case. And I don't get — and I don't get it. I don't know why.
And it was not her fault. Stand up, Melania. She took a lot of abuse.
Oh, I'm in trouble when I go home tonight. She did not know about that one. Am I okay? Is that okay? Cardinal, please speak to her.
I'd like to address an important religious matter: the issue of going to confession. Or, as Hillary calls it, the Fourth of July weekend with FBI Director Comey.
I am told Hillary went to confession before tonight's event, but the priest was having a hard time and he asked her about her sins and she said she could not 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? Pretty corrupt. Hillary is and has been in politics since the 1970s. What is her pitch? The economy is busted, the government is corrupt, Washington is failing. Vote for me. I have been working on these problems for 30 years. I can fix it, she says.
I was not really sure if Hillary was going to be here tonight, because, I guess, you did not send her an invitation by email, or maybe you did and she just found out about it through the wonder of WikiLeaks. We have learned so much from WikiLeaks. For example, Hillary Clinton believes it is vital to deceive the people by having one public policy—
And it a different policy in private. That's okay. I don't know who they are angry at. Here she is tonight in public, pretending not to hate Catholics.
Now, if some of you have not noticed, Hillary is not laughing as much as the rest of us. That's because she knows the jokes. All of the jokes were given to her in advance of the dinner by Donna Brazile—
Everyone knows, of course, Hillary has believed that it takes a village, which only makes sense, after all, in places like Haiti, where she has taken a number of them.
Thank you. I won't go this evening without saying something nice about my opponent. Hillary has been in Washington a long time. She knows a lot about how government works. And according to her sworn testimony, Hillary has forgotten more things than most of us will ever, ever know, that I can tell you.
We are having some fun here tonight, and that's good. On a personal note, what an amazing honor it is to be with all of you. I want to congratulate Hillary on getting the nomination, and over the next 19 days, someone will be chosen. We will see what happens. But I have great memories of coming to this dinner with my father over the years when I was a young man. Great experience for me. This was always a special experience for him and me to be together. One thing we can all agree on is the need to support the great work that comes out of the dinner. Millions of dollars have been raised to support disadvantaged children. And I applaud the many people who have worked to make this wonderful event a critical lifeline for children in need.
And that we together broke the all-time record tonight is really something special. More than $6 million. We can also agree on the need to stand up to anti-Catholic bias, to defend religious liberty, and to create a culture that celebrates life. America is in many ways divided.
Thank you. America is in many ways divided like it has never been before. And the great religious leaders here tonight give us all an example that we can follow. We are living in a time and age that we never thought possible before. The vicious barbarism we read about in history books but never thought we would see it in our so-called modern-day world. Who would have thought we would be witnessing what we are witnessing today? We have got to be very strong, very, very smart, and we've got to come together not only as a nation, but as a world community. Thank you very much. God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you.
Hillary Clinton’s speech
Clinton: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Your eminence, your excellencies, members of the clergy, Donald and Melania, and all the distinguished guests. Earlier tonight, Al reminded me that when he first ran for president, he chose the progressive senator from Arkansas, Joseph G. Robinson, who is one of my husband's political heroes.
This work that you do through the dinner, Al — you have done it now for 30 years — is such a labor of love. You have been a hero for both the children of the archdiocese and for the city of New York, and I think we all owe Al Smith a great round of applause.
This is such a special event that I took a break from my rigorous nap schedule to be here.
And as you have already heard, it is a treat for all of you, too, because usually I charge a lot for speeches like this. But for me, it was kind of ironic thinking about a fiery populist, Al Smith.
If he were here today and saw how much money we had raised, he would be very proud.
And if he saw this magnificent room full of plutocrats celebrating his legacy, he would be very confused.
It is a special honor to be here with your eminence. I know you were criticized for inviting both Donald and me here tonight. You responded by saying, “If I only sat down with those who are saints, I would be taking all my meals alone.” Now, just to be clear, I think the cardinal is saying I'm not eligible for sainthood. But getting through these three debates with Donald has to count as a miracle.
So I guess I am up against the highest, hardest stained-glass ceiling. But, your eminence, you do deserve great credit for bringing together two people who have been at each other's throats, mortal enemies, bitter foes. I've got to ask, how did you get the governor and mayor here together tonight?
I've got to say, there are a lot of friendly faces in this room, people I have been privileged to know and work with. I just want to put you all in a basket of adorables. And you look so good in your tuxes, or as I refer to them, formal pantsuits.
And because this dinner is for such a great cause, Donald, if at any time you don't like what I'm saying, feel free to stand up and shout "Wrong" while I'm talking. Come to think of it, it's amazing I am appearing after Donald. I did not think he would be okay with a peaceful transition of power. And, Donald, after listening to your speech, I will also enjoy listening to Mike Pence deny that you ever gave it.
I have had the privilege of being at the Al Smith dinners in years past, and I always enjoy it. But remember, if you are not happy with the way it comes out, it must be rigged. And it's always a special treat for me to be back in New York, a city which I love and I think truly embodies the best of America. Don't you think?
People look at the Statue of Liberty and see a proud symbol of our history as a nation of immigrants, a beacon of hope for people around the world. Donald looks at the Statue of Liberty and sees a 4.
Maybe a 5 if she loses the torch and tablet and changes her hair. Come to think of it, you know what would be a good number for a woman? 45.
But I digress. I will try my best tonight, but I understand I am not known for my sense of humor. That's why it did take a village to write these jokes. People say, and I hear them, they say I'm boring compared to Donald, but I'm not boring at all. In fact, I am the life of every party I attended — and I have been to three.
And when the parties get out of hand, as occasionally they do, it is important to have a responsible chaperone who can get everyone home safely — and that is why I picked Tim Kaine to be my vice president.
You notice there is no teleprompter here tonight, which is probably smart, because maybe you saw Donald dismantle his own. Maybe it is harder when you are translating from the original Russian.
But every year, this dinner brings together a collection of sensible, committed, mainstream Republicans, or as we now like to call them, Hillary supporters.
Now, some of my critics — and I hear that, too, they think I only say what people want to hear. Tonight, that is true. And here's exactly what you want to hear. This election will be over very, very soon. And look at this dais. We've got Charlie Rose and Chris Matthews and Gayle King and Katie Couric. This counts as a press conference, right?
It is great also to see Mayor Bloomberg here. It is a shame he is not speaking tonight. I am curious to hear what a billionaire has to say. And look at the dais. We got the honorable Chuck Schumer, the honorable Andrew Cuomo, the honorable Bill de Blasio, the honorable Dave Dickens, and so many other wonderful officials.
And we have Rudy Giuliani. Many don't know this, but Rudy actually got his start as a prosecutor going after wealthy New Yorkers who avoided paying taxes. But as the saying goes, if you can't beat them, go on Fox News and call him a genius.
So as I said, we have now had our third and thankfully final debate. Sharing the stage with Donald Trump is like, well, nothing really comes to mind. There is nothing like sharing a stage with Donald Trump.
Donald wanted me drug-tested before last night's debate. And look, I've got to tell you, I am so flattered that Donald thinks I used some sort of performance enhancer. Now, actually, I did. It's called preparation.
Looking back, I had to listen to Donald for three full debates, and he says I don't have any stamina — he says I don't have any stamina. That is four and a half hours. I have now stood next to Donald Trump longer than any of his campaign managers.
Look, I have deep respect for people like Kellyanne Conway. She is working day and night for Donald, and because she is a contractor, he is probably not even going to pay her.
But I think the good news is that the debates finally allowed Republicans to unite around a candidate. The bad news is it is Mike Pence. And it has been a long, long campaign. That should be one of our highest priorities, shortening the campaign.
And whoever wins this election, the outcome will be historic. We will either have the first female president or the first president to have started a Twitter war with Cher. And if Donald does win, it will be awkward at the annual Presidents Day photo when all the former presidents gather at the White House, and not just with Bill. How is Barack going to get past the Muslim ban?
Republicans in particular seemed frustrated with their nominee. Paul Ryan told the members of the House, "You don't have to support the top of the ticket; just do what's in your best interest." So I guess Donald really has unified his party around his core philosophy.
I don't understand their unhappiness. They say Donald does not have any policies. I keep hearing that. I would like to defend him on this. Donald has issues, serious issues. Really, really serious issues. And I worry about Donald’s going-alone attitude. For example, at his convention when he said, "I alone can fix it." In the 1990s, I said the same about America's health care system, and it did not work out so well for me either.
Speaking of health, Donald has been very concerned about mine. He actually sent me a car to bring me here tonight. Actually, it was a hearse.
But I kind of just want to put the information out there so everybody can draw their own conclusions and you can judge our relative health. We have each really star medical records. My blood pressure is 100/70. His is unbelievably great.
My cholesterol is 189. His is "presidential." My heart rate is 72 beats per minute. His is "the most beats ever or the least beats ever, whichever sounds best." But Donald really is as healthy as a horse, you know, the one that Vladimir Putin rides around on.
But I can say without fear of contradiction that I will be the healthiest and youngest woman ever to serve as president.
But this has been a really strange campaign. You saw it last night and tonight. Donald has attacked me for life in public service. I did not get that at first. I kind of get it now. As he told Howard Stern, he does not like it when women have been around for more than 35 years. But Donald, we have so much more in common than you may realize. For example, I have tried to inspire young people by showing them that with resilience and hard work, anything is possible, and you are doing the same. A third-grade teacher told me that one of her students refused to turn in his homework because it was "under audit." And here's another similarity. The Republican National Committee is not spending a dime to help either one of us.
So tonight, let's embrace the spirit of the evening. Let's come together, remember what unites us, and just rip on Ted Cruz.
I hope you enjoyed my remarks tonight. I said no to some jokes that I thought were over the line, but I suppose you can judge for yourself on WikiLeaks in the next few days.
Donald will tell us after the benediction whether he accepts this dinner is over. He has to wait and see. But there is nothing funny about the stakes in this election. In the end, what makes this dinner important are not the jokes we tell, but the legacy we carry forward. It is often easy to forget how far this country has come. And there are a lot of people in this room tonight who themselves, or their parents or grandparents, came here as immigrants, made a life for yourselves, took advantage of the American dream and the greatest system that has ever been created in the history of the world, to unleash the individual talent, energy, and ambition of everyone willing to work hard. When I think about what Al Smith went through, it is important to just reflect how groundbreaking it was for him, a Catholic, to be my party's nominee for president.
Don't forget, school boards sent home letters with children saying that if Al Smith is elected president, you will not be allowed to have or read a Bible. Voters were told that he would annul Protestant marriages. I saw recently that he would connect a secret tunnel between Holland and America for the pope to rule our country.
Those fears of division can cause us to treat each other as the other. Rhetoric like that makes it harder for us to see each other and listen to each other, and certainly a lot harder to love our neighbor as ourselves. I believe the way we treat others is the highest expression of faith and of service. I am not Catholic, I'm a Methodist, but one of the things we share is a belief that in order to achieve salvation, we need both faith and good works.
You certainly don't need to be Catholic to be inspired by the humility and hearts of the holy father Pope Francis, or to embrace his message. His message about rejecting a mindset of hostility. His call to reduce inequality. His warning about climate change. His appeal that we build bridges, not walls. As you know, my running mate, Tim, is Catholic, and he went to Jesuit schools, and one of the ideas that I have talked about is the more, the better.
We need to get better at finding ways to disagree on matters of policy while agreeing on questions of decency and civility. How we talk to each other, treat each other, respect each other.
So I have taken this concept to heart in this campaign, the daily heat and back and forth of a presidential campaign, to ask how we can do more for each other and better for each other. Because I think for each of us, our greatest monument on this Earth won't be what we build, but the lives we touch. And that is ultimately what this dinner is all about. And it is why it has been such a great honor to join you all again. Thank you.