Hillary Clinton & Donald Trump's Al Smith Dinner Seating Arrangement Couldn't Have Been More Awkward
Traditionally, presidential candidates are invited to the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, a fundraiser for Catholic charities. This year, organizers of the Al Smith Dinner seated Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump near each other. To be exact, one seat apart. Considering the insults that have been traded between the candidates, it might have been an unwise decision to put them next to each other. I mean, Trump even (infamously) called Clinton a "nasty woman" just the day before at the final presidential debate.
Still, animosity between candidates is nothing new. While presidential elections in general can involve mud-slinging and insults, "I think the Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton campaign is going to go down as possibly one of the most viciously personal campaigns we’ve ever seen," presidential historian Brother Rogers told Mississippi's WCBI. "But it’s not the first one we’ve seen, and it’s certainly not the last," he added.
The white-tie event took place at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City. From footage, it didn't seem as though Clinton and Trump acknowledged each other before sitting down on either side of the, in my opinion, unlucky Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York. The two seemed like children right after a tussle, with an adult sitting between them to make sure they don't start fighting again. Dolan was possibly placed there as a preventive measure against a potential food fight. (I kid. Sort of.)
But once the speeches started, Clinton and Trump were pretty much forced to acknowledge each other. At past dinners, presidential candidates have "roasted" each other through humorous speeches filled with jokes, often at the candidate's own expense. Since the dinners are possibly the last time candidates will be on the same stage before the November election, the nominees usually take the chance to create a more lighthearted atmosphere than that of the tension-heavy presidential debates.
Trump's speech started out fine, with Clinton laughing at some of his jokes. But it quickly took a turn, with the crowd booing some of Trump's harsher jabs at Clinton. At one point he said, "I don’t know who they’re angry at, Hillary, you or I." But it seemed pretty apparent the crowd was reacting negatively to Trump's words rather than those of Hillary.
Clinton's speech was more self-deprecating, but she too spent a fair share of time insulting her opponent. Trump is notorious for not taking jokes told at his expense well. In 2011, he scowled as President Obama made fun of Trump at the White House Correspondents Dinner. More recently, Trump criticized Saturday Night Live for parodying him, ignoring the fact that SNL has satirized presidential candidates and politicians for decades.
Still, Trump managed to smile and laugh at some of Clinton's jokes at his expense. And after the dinner, Trump and Clinton finally shook hands. Still, for future reference, if the presidential candidates in question have a history of enmity between them, it might be better if you put them on opposite sides of the room.
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