Senators John McCain and Barack Obama were the star speakers tonite at the 63rd annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, which historically has hosted presidential contenders over the years. The event has been called “dessert for the politically minded” because it is filled with inside jokes, sharp witted self-deprecating humor and fun laugh-out-loud digs between the two candidates. Read more about the event and watch the video below.

They were separated at the head table only by Cardinal Egan, the Archbishop of New York in a room filled with the elite of New York. The 63rd annual charity roast, which raised $3.9 million to help underprivileged children, is dedicated to the memory of Al Smith, the four-term governor of New York who was the first Catholic to win the presidential nomination of a major political party.

Senator McCain spoke first and wasted little time in poking fun of his own campaign.

“This morning, I’ve dismissed my entire team of senior advisers,” he told the who’s who crowd of political and media elites. “All their positions will now be held by a man named Joe the Plumber.”

That of course, a reference to a recent exchange between a citizen, forever dubbed “Joe the Plumber” and Barack Obama. It was Joe the Plumber who was the star of last night’s debate between the two candidates.

“What they don’t know is that Joe the Plumber recently signed a very lucrative contract with a wealthy couple to handle all the work on all seven of their houses.”

That, a nod to the McCains’ own properties and the subject of alot of snarking from the Obama campaign, was the first of many self-deprecating moments, and Sen. McCain delivered the lines with enthusiasm and was really terrific. The camera cut to Senator Obama many times during McCain’s speech and he seemed like he enjoyed every minute of it.

Senator McCain also joked that because he is a friend and colleague of Senator Obama, he has a nickname for him.

“I just call him ‘that one’,” a line that raised eyebrows when he used it in their second debate. The Arizona senator offered that Sen. Obama has a pet name for him as well: “George Bush.”

Senator Obama was up next and opened by saying:

“there is no other crowd in America that I’d rather be palling around with right now,” a reference to the McCain’s campaign’s charge that he has “palled around” with a former domestic terrorist.

But much of his humor was also self-deprecating.

“I have to say tonight’s venue isn’t really what I’m used to. I was originally told we’d be able to move this outdoors to Yankee Stadium, and — can somebody tell me what happened to the Greek columns that I requested?” he said.

And he said: “I feel right at home here because it’s often been said that I share the politics of Alfred E. Smith and the ears of Alfred E. Newman.”

He also said that he got his middle name, Hussein, “from somebody who obviously didn’t think I’d ever run for president.”

I do have to say the line about the ears was a good one!

The event is fun every year and for a good and noble cause. Hillary and Bill Clinton, Rudy Guiliani, and Michael Bloomberg were all punchlines. And there were also kind words spoken about each other — probably the last time we hear those until the concession speech is given.





McCain on Obama Video





Obama on McCain Video