Donald Trump was booed by diners during a Catholic fundraising event last night.
The Alfred E Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, an annual white-tie gala in New York, is often the last time the two presidential nominees share a stage before Election Day and is traditionally a time when campaign hostilities are set aside. The event raises money for impoverished children throughout New York
The speakers usually poke fun at themselves and each other. But the audience seemed to think Trump had crossed a line with his caustic language about Clinton.
Trump referred to his opponent as “corrupt” during a lengthy riff on the FBI’s investigation into her use of a private email server as secretary of state.
“Hillary is so corrupt she got kicked off the Watergate Commission. How corrupt do you have to be to get kicked off the Watergate Commission? Pretty corrupt,” he said to loud boos and at least one call demanding he get off the stage.
Trump went on, to growing jeers: “Hillary believes that it’s vital to deceive the people by having one public policy and a totally different policy in private. Here she is tonight, in public, pretending not to hate Catholics.”
It comes after the controversy over the “Catholic Spring” emails, in which Wikileaks revealed that Clinton’s campaign chief, John Podesta, claimed to have helped “create” organisations in order to start a “revolution” within the Church.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan said yesterday that comments made about Catholics in these and other Wikileaks emails were “insulting and patronising.” He told ABC: “If it had been said about the Jewish community, if it had been said about the Islamic community, within 10 minutes there would have been an apology and a complete distancing from those remarks.” Cardinal Dolan said that he hoped Clinton would disassociate herself from the remarks.
At last night’s dinner, Trump and Clinton sat on either side of Cardinal Dolan. When they entered and took their seats, they did not greet each other or make eye contact, though they did shake hands at the conclusion of the roast.
Dolan later called his seat “the iciest place on the planet.”
Most eyes were on Trump, who famously glowered through President Barack Obama’s jokes at his expense during the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner.
The speeches largely exhibited the gently mocking humour which is traditional at the event. Trump’s biggest laughs came as he talked about claims Melania Trump had copied parts of a speech from Michelle Obama. “They think [Michelle Obama’s] absolutely great. My wife Melania gives the exact same speech, and people get on her case,” he said to whoops and laughs.
Clinton was the first one to laugh when Trump joked that she had bumped into him earlier in the night “and she very civilly said ‘Pardon me'” — a reference to the Republican nominee’s frequent declarations that his opponent should go to jail.
Clinton, meanwhile, joked that she had taken a break from her “usual nap schedule” to attend and suggested that the audience should be pleased she’s not charging her usual fee for speaking in front of potential donors.
But she also got in some digs at Trump, a few of which drew scattered jeers. Clinton said she understood why Trump disliked teleprompters, because they can be difficult to follow and “I’m sure it’s even harder when you’re translating from the original Russian.”
She also joked about Trump’s attitude to women. Most Americans see the Statue of Liberty as a symbol of freedom, Clinton said; but “Donald looks at the Statue of Liberty and sees a ‘4’. Maybe a ‘5’ if she loses the torch and tablet and changes her hair.”
The dinner is named after the former New York governor Al Smith, a Democrat who in 1928 became the first Catholic to receive a major party nomination for president.