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Clinton, Trump Trade Barbs at Charity Dinner

  • VOA News

Cardinal Timothy Dolan sits between rival presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, left, and Donald Trump, who’s accompanied by wife Melania Trump, at a Catholic charity dinner in New York, Oct. 20, 2016.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan sits between rival presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, left, and Donald Trump, who’s accompanied by wife Melania Trump, at a Catholic charity dinner in New York, Oct. 20, 2016.

Though they were guest speakers at an annual benefit dinner Thursday in New York, rival U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump had few charitable things to say about each other a day after facing off in a rancorous debate.

"Here she is, pretending not to hate Catholics," Republican nominee Trump said of his Democratic opponent, at the white-tie event hosted by the Roman Catholic Diocese of New York.

The barb drew gasps from some of the 1,500 guests at the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner. So did Trump’s charge that "Hillary is so corrupt.”

Clinton dished, too. She took aim at Trump for judging women on appearance.

"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 4 – maybe a 5 if she loses the torch and the tablet and changes her hair."

Groans arose from the audience in the ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel.

WATCH: Clinton joke about Trump and Statue of Liberty


'Awkward' chemistry

New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan, sitting between the two speakers, later charitably described their chemistry as "awkward," the Associated Press reported.

The dinner memorializes Alfred E. Smith, a Democrat and former New York governor who, in 1928, became the first Roman Catholic presidential candidate. He's remembered for working across political divisions and encouraging unity.

The archdiocese had billed the event, which raised $6 million to aid New York's needy children, as an opportunity to hear the speakers' "light humor and political savvy." The political roast had plenty of light moments.

Trump spoke first, teasing that "many people tell me that modesty is perhaps my best quality. Even better than my temperament."

He also joked about wife Melania's speech to the Republican Party convention in July, which included verbatim parts of a speech Michelle Obama gave at the 2008 Democratic convention. Trump teasingly blamed the resulting uproar on the media, a favorite target.

"The media is even more biased this year than ever before, ever," he said. "You want the proof? Michelle Obama gives a speech and everyone loves it, it’s fantastic. ... My wife Melania gives the exact same speech and people get on her case.​"

Trump later pointed out the heads of TV network and cable news chiefs and newspapers, and implied they all were part of Clinton’s campaign team.

WATCH: Trump joke about wife Melania's RNC speech


'Corrupt' comment draws boos

Then Trump turned up the political roast's temperature to searing. When he called Clinton "corrupt," it brought jeering.

"We’ve learned so much from Wikileaks," Trump said, referencing emails published after being stolen from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. One exchange mocked conservative Catholics. "For example, Hillary believes that it is vital to deceive the people by having one public policy and a totally different policy in private. For example, here she is tonight in public pretending not to hate Catholics.”

Clinton and Dolan looked uncomfortable.

Clinton jokes about health, speaking fees

Clinton opened her remarks by poking fun at her recent health concerns and her large speaking fees.

"This is such a special event that I took a break from my rigorous nap schedule to be here," she said. “And as you’ve already heard, it’s a special treat for all of you, too, because usually I charge a lot for speeches like this."

She jabbed at Trump’s repeated claims that the election might be "rigged" and at his assertion in Wednesday's debate that he might not accept election results.

“Come to think of it, it’s amazing I’m up here after Donald. I didn’t think he’d be OK with a peaceful transition of power. After listening to your speech, I will also enjoy listening to Mike Pence deny that you ever gave it," she said of Trump's running mate.

Clinton joked about Trump's apparent lack of support from members of the Republican Party and implied the party wasn't helping either candidate financially.

"Every year, this dinner brings together a collection of sensible, committed mainstream Republicans – or, as we now like to call them, Hillary supporters,” she said.

Common ground

Despite numerous testy moments, Clinton said she and Trump could find some common ground.

"Let’s come together, remember what unites us – and just rip on Ted Cruz," she said.

Clinton and Trump did come together. After her remarks, the two shook hands, a nicety they'd ignored following the previous night's debate.

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