Obama, Romney trade barbs at Al Smith Dinner in New York


Thursday night's white-tie dinner was a comedic pause in a contentious contest that has grown increasingly nasty as the race to the White House remains close. Both candidates took funny but sharp jabs at each other and themselves.

Romney took the microphone first, wasting no time entertaining the white-tie crowd by poking fun at himself and his wealth.

"It's nice to finally relax and to wear what Ann and I wear around the house," Romney joked.

It was a night of laughs from both candidates. The president panned his poor performance in the first debate.

"As some of you may have noticed, I had a lot more energy in our second debate. I felt very well rested after the nice long nap in the first debate," the president said.

Both candidates also zeroed in on one of the common refrains out on the campaign trail, the monthly jobs report.

"Don't be surprised if the president mentions this evening, the monthly jobs report, where there was a slight improvement in the numbers. He knows how to seize the moment, this president, and already has a new campaign slogan, 'You're better off now than you were four weeks ago,'" Romney said.

"Of course the economy is on everybody's minds. The unemployment rate is at its lowest level since I took office. I don't have a joke here. I just thought it'd be useful to remind everybody that the unemployment rate is at the lowest it's been since I took office," said Mr. Obama.

Hidden in the jokes were some serious jabs. Romney made fun of his attack on Big Bird, while also taking aim at the president for running up the federal debt.

"By the way, in the spirit of Sesame Street, the president's remarks tonight were brought to you by the letter 'O' and the number 16 trillion," Romney said.

Obama chided Romney for his lack of experience on the world stage.

"Monday's debate is a little different, because the topic is foreign policy. Spoiler alert: We got bin Laden," the president said.

The esteemed Catholic Charities fundraiser has become a long-running tradition for the presidential candidates, dating back to the end of World War II.

The next and final presidential debate will be held Monday night, Oct. 22, 2012, at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. The 90-minute debate will begin at 6 p.m. PT and will be televised on ABC7 and streaming live on www.abc7.com/live.

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