Trump booed as Clinton jokes turn nasty at charity event

US presidential candidates trade biting quips at traditional dinner ‘roast’ in New York

Donald Trump and HiIlary Clinton exchanged some cutting jokes during a charity dinner event in New York. Both candidates gave more bite and less self-deprecating humour that has defined the 67-year event.

 

For Donald Trump, there were more punches than punchlines at a traditional dinner “roast” for the US presidential candidates as his jokes about Hillary Clinton turned more offensive.

The Republican was booed by guests at the Al Smith charity dinner in New York, a long-standing ritual that usually offers a break from the rough and tumble of the campaign when the candidates poke fun at themselves and their opponents in a light-hearted setting.

Reflecting the tone of this campaign, there was a nasty edge to the remarks of both candidates with more bite and less of the self-deprecating humour that has defined the 67-year event.

The dinner, named after the former New York governor and first Catholic to lead a major-party presidential ticket, came a day after a brutal third and final debate between the candidates.

Mr Trump spoke first, striking a good-natured note, poking fun at his lack of humility and comparing himself to Son of God by describing himself as just another “carpenter working for his father” in his youth.

He quipped about the size of both his hands and the crowds at Mrs Clinton’s campaign rallies and earned some of the biggest laughs of the night when he joked about his wife Melania’s Republican convention speech that was partially plagiarised from a Michelle Obama speech.

“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’s absolutely great. My wife, Melania, gives the exact same speech and people get on her case,” he said.

His set took a nosedive, becoming more like one of his blistering rallies than a mild-mannered respite in their election fight. Jokes about Mrs Clinton being “so corrupt” and the work of her family’s charitable foundation in Haiti fell flat, drawing heckles and jeers from the audience.

“We’ve learned so much from Wikileaks,” said Mr Trump, referring the spate of leaked emails belonging to Mrs Clinton’s campaign chairman that has led to embarrassing disclosures.

“For example, Hillary believes that it is vital to deceive the people by having one public policy and a totally different policy in private.”

Unusual

In response to boos from the crowd - an unusual occurrence among the guests dressed in white-tied tuxedos and ballgowns at the quadrennial event - Mr Trump, turning to his opponent, said: “I don’t know who they’re angry at, Hillary, you or I.

“For example, here’s she is tonight, in public, pretending not to hate Catholics,” he added, in a reference to a joke one of her aides made about the Catholic Church in a leaked email.

Mrs Clinton kept grinning throughout.

When it was her turn, she rattled off a flurry of gags about her stamina - “I took a break from my rigorous nap schedule to be here” - and paid speeches before turning to Mr Trump, mocking him on everything from his temperament to his admiration for Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

“Donald really is as healthy as a horse. You know, the one Vladimir Putin rides around on,” she cracked.

In a dig at the reshuffles and departures in his campaign team, she joked that after the debates, she has stood next to Mr Trump “longer than any of his campaign managers”.

The Democratic nominee eventually turned to the news story of the day: Mr Trump’s refusal to say if he will accept the election result.

“I’m surprised I’m up here at all. I didn’t think he’d be okay with a peaceful transfer of power,” she said.

Mrs Clinton delivered some ill-measured jokes of her own given the setting. She landed a particularly hard blow in a joke about how Mr Trump has scored women on their looks.

“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,” she said.

“Donald looks at the Statue of Liberty and sees a ‘four,’ maybe a ‘five’ if she loses the torch and tablet and changes her hair.”

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Trump supporter, was caught on camera grimacing in response, appearing either not to understand or appreciate the joke.

In his remarks introducing the candidates, Al Smith IV touched on a contentious subject for Mr Trump - his relationship with women - when joked that the businessman had asked Mrs Clinton back-stage how she was.

“I’m fine,” Mrs Clinton said, according to Mr Smith’s joke. “Now get out of the ladies’ dressing room.”

For the most part, the two candidates ignored each other before and after they spoke as they sat either side of Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

At the end, they did manage a handshake, unlike the previous night after the debate.