Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton roasted each other at the 71st Annual Al Smith Dinner, and … well, Trump bombed.
The dinner is a charity event held in honor of Alfred E. Smith, the first ever Catholic presidential nominee. Every four years the event features comedic speeches from both major party presidential candidates, which are usually a mix of self-deprecating election jokes and some jocular ribbing at the other candidate’s expense.
Usually candidates’ shtick is well-received. But usually the candidates are not bigoted assholes with a 12-year-old’s sense of humor and a penchant for crossing the line. This year one was.
“Here [Hillary Clinton] is tonight, in public, pretending not to hate Catholics,” Donald Trump told the crowd of Catholic donors who were there to honor the Democratic Party’s legacy of inclusiveness in the face of widespread anti-Catholic sentiment.
An unprecedented echo of boos erupted from the crowd as the candidate who has made religious tests for citizenship a central part of his presidential campaign accused his opponent of religious bigotry.
Trump’s night didn’t get much better from there. Elsewhere in his speech Trump attempted to make a crack about Hillary Clinton being “so corrupt” that “she got kicked off the Watergate commission.”
Here again Trump’s joke was met with boos, though at this point it was unclear whether the crowd was taking issue with his insensitive tone or his B-list comedy.
It didn’t help that Trump’s opening act was followed by a devastating and much better received routine from Hillary Clinton. The former Secretary of State took a more traditional approach to the event, offering a few jokes about herself before laying into Trump.
One of the night’s most cutting lines may have been Clinton’s dual critique of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies and his rampant sexism–both of which run counter to Catholic doctrine and teachings.
“People look at the Statue of Liberty and they 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 four,” Clinton quipped. “Maybe a five if she loses the torch and tablet and changes her hair.”