The tension was palpable at the Al Smith dinner on Thursday evening, as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton sat one chair away from one another but with each candidate mostly ignoring their opponent’s existence. There was, however, a brief moment during the dinner when reporters perked up as Trump and Clinton exchanged words for about 30 seconds. What did they say?
They were not wearing microphones, but Cardinal Timothy Dolan was sitting in between the two candidates, and on Friday morning, he revealed what their conversation was like in an interview with The Today Show.
Contrary to what you might expect, Dolan said that the two showed kindness towards one another, with Trump saying to Clinton, “You are one tough and talented woman.” Trump also said, “This has been a good experience, this whole campaign, as tough as it’s been.” Dolan says that Clinton responded to Trump by saying, “Whatever happens, we need to work together afterward.”
The Al Smith dinner is a charity event during which presidential candidates typically put aside their differences to share food and jokes. The tradition is that both presidential nominees deliver funny monologues filled with jabs towards their opponent combined with self-deprecating humor. But last night was the most viscous Al Smith dinner in recent memory, with Trump and Clinton’s punchlines being unusually nasty and with the audience actually beginning to boo each candidate.
At one point in his monologue, Trump said that Hillary Clinton hates Catholics, that she is corrupt, and that she will be seeking a pardon in a few months. Clinton said that Trump is not really a billionaire and that he translates his speeches from Russian. Cardinal Dolan joked that his seat between Trump and Clinton was the “iciest place on Earth.”
For those watching at home, it was noteworthy that upon being introduced, Trump and Clinton did not shake hands despite sitting so close to one another. But this is reportedly because the candidates had just greeted one another backstage, and they shook hands at this point.