At Thursday’s Al Smith Charity Dinner, President Barack Obama seemed like a man preoccupied with sinking poll numbers. He appeared nothing like the candidate Obama who wowed the audience at the same event in 2008.
In self-deprecating remarks, Obama revealed his campaign strategy going forward may be to play the “Bin Laden is dead” card. Obama joked extensively about his poor first debate performance. His delivery was off and much of the speech seemed mailed in.
He said “Monday’s debate is a little different because the topic is foreign policy. Spoiler alert, we got Bin Laden.”
Obama also said this was “the third time that Governor Romney have met recently. As some of you may have noticed, I had a lot more energy in our second debate. I felt really well rested after the nice long nap I had in the first debate.”
He joked that he has decided “that for our final debate, I’m going to go back to the strategy that I used to prepare for the first debate.”
“I’m just kidding,” Obama said. “I’m trying to make Axelrod sweat a little bit. Get him a little nervous.”
In comments that could be taken as a sign that Obama is not at all over-confident about his reelection chances, Obama said:
“Tonight I am here with a man whose father was a popular governor, who knows what it’s like to run a major northeaster state and who could very well be president some day … And I’m hoping it is Andrew Cuomo.”
On Chris Matthews:
Although it turns millions of Americans focused in on the second debate who didn’t focus in on the first debate and I happen to be one of them. I particularly want to apologize to Chris Matthews. Four years ago, I gave him a thrill up his leg; this time around, I gave him a stroke.
On his “you didn’t build that” comments:
I used to love walking thought Central Park, love to go to old Yankee Stadium, the house that Ruth built although he really did not build that. I hope everybody’s aware of that.
On Obama’s middle name — and Romney’s:
Ultimately, though, tonight’s not about the disagreements Governor Romney and I may have. It’s what we have in common, beginning with our unusual names. Actually Mitt is his middle name, I wish I could use my middle name.
On Romney being less popular than he overseas:
Of course, world affairs are a challenge for every candidate. After — some of you guys remember — after my foreign trip in 2008, I was attacked as a celebrity because I was so popular with our allies overseas. And I have to say I’m impressed with how well Governor Romney has avoided that problem.
Obama’s closing, much like Romney’s, was graceful and showed that dinners such as the Al Smith dinner in the middle of a heated campaign is what makes America and her politics unique:
In all seriousness, I couldn’t be more honored to be here this evening. I’m honored to be here with leaders of both the private and public sectors, and particularly the extraordinary work that is done by the Catholic church. You know it’s written in scripture … that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character, and character hope. This country has fought through some very tough years together. And while we still have a lot of work ahead, we’ve come as far as we have mainly because of the perseverance and character of ordinary Americans. And it says something about who we are as a people that in the middle of a contentious election season, opposing candidates can share the same stage.
People from both parties can come together to support a worthy cause. And I particularly want to thank Governor Romney for joining me because I admire him very much as a family man, and a loving father. And those are two titles that will always matter more than any political ones.
we may have different political perspectives, but I think, in fact I’m certain, that we share the hope that the next four years will reflect the same decency, and the same willingness to come together for a higher purpose that are on display this evening. May we all, in the words of Al Smith, “Do our full duty as citizens.”