10:29 pm Oct. 18, 2012
At the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner tonight at the Waldorf Astoria, President Obama and Mitt Romney mostly joked about themselves and one another, but neither could resist tweaking Governor Andrew Cuomo.
"Let me get this straight," said Romney, who spoke first. "He's put in one term as governor, he's got a father who was governor and he thinks that's enough to run for president?"
The self-referential joke, which got a good laugh, seemed to step on a similar joke from the president, when he took to the podium after Romney.
"Tonight I am here with a man whose father was a popular governor, who knows what it's like to run a major northeastern state, and who could very well be president some day," Obama said. "And I'm hoping it is Andrew Cuomo."
Obama and Romney sat one seat apart, separated only by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who said he regretted that New Jersey governor Chris Christie wasn't the Republican nominee, telling Romney, "I sure would have looked a lot better sitting next to him than you."
The four-tier dais was filled with local politicians and power-brokers, with Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg and Senator Chuck Schumer sharing the second tier, opposite Romney and Obama.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. and Howard Rubenstein were in the fourth row, but prominently framed the speakers in the C-SPAN camera shot, with Katie Couric laughing heartily in the lower corner from the third tier.
Next to Couric, MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews was mischievoulsy seated next to FOX News chief Roger Ailes. Ray Kelly, Christine Quinn, Tom DiNapoli, David Dinkins and Ed Koch were all in the fourth tier with Vance and Rubenstein.
Al Smith IV, the great grandson of the former New York governor, laid into both candidates, saying Paul Ryan had been such a good attack dog that "Governor Romney might strap him to the roof of the car."
He said he was "excited" to welcome the president, "almost as excited as we were in 2008."
Romney and Obama shook hands when they passed on the dais, with Obama patting him on the shoulder, according to the pool report, and Romney later joking that the two were co-existing comfortably "like Tuesday night never happened."
The black-tie affair featured a dinner of poached lobster tail and roast rack of herb-crusted lamb, and Romney, in a black tux and white tie, joked that, after all the outfits you have to sport on the campaign trail, it was nice for he and Ann to relax in what they wear around the house.
"Usually when I get invited to gatherings like this, it's to be the designated driver," he said.
Romney also made light of his promise to cut funding for PBS, saying "Big Bird never saw it coming," and that the president's remarks "are brought to you tonight by the letter 'O' and the number 16 trillion."
Obama shook hands with Romney after the Republicans remarks, before taking the podium himself.
"Please take your seats, or otherwise Clint Eastwood will yell at them," he told the standing crowd.
Obama said he felt "really well rested after the nice long nap I had in the first debate."
He said this was his last campaign, win or lose, and that he was "trying to drink it all in, unfortunately Mayor Bloomberg will only let me have 16 ounces of it."
The president reminisced about going to school in New York, and visiting Yankee Stadium, "the House that Ruth Built, but he really did not build that."
After the speeches, the president enjoyed a quick handshake with Cuomo, who divulged earlier in the day that he'd be campaigning out of state for Obama.
The president and Romney also shared a quick handshake after the speeches.
"Four for four, four speeches, four good ones," said Dolan as he shook hands on his way out.