Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Were Polite in Private at Al Smith Dinner, Says Cardinal Dolan
"I was very moved by the obvious attempt on behalf of both Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump to be courteous, to get along, to say nice things privately to one another," said the Cardinal.
At Thursday night's Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York City — traditionally a platform for presidential nominees to come together to break bread and lob lighthearted insults — Timothy Cardinal Dolan found himself in the precarious position of peacemaker, sitting between Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump.
While the two candidates delivered some harsh jokes about one another during their speeches, Cardinal Dolan, appearing on Friday morning's Today show, was insistent that they played much nicer when not behind the dais.
"I don't mind telling you I was kind of nervous going into it," Dolan told Savannah Guthrie and Lester Holt. "There were some awkward moments. Whenever you get some humor, there can be some awkwardness."
Even though he was sitting between the two presidential hopefuls, Cardinal Dolan said he didn't have to play peacemaker in private.
"I was very moved by the obvious attempt on behalf of both Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump to be courteous, to get along, to say nice things privately to one another," said Dolan.
While the jokes bandied about were not particularly pleasant, with some of Trump's comments even drawing boos from the audience, Dolan believed the crowd "accurately reflect[ed] the sentiments going on."
Though Dolan admitted there was some "iciness" between Trump and Clinton, the Cardinal aimed to bridge the gap through prayer, an action that seemed to help defrost some of the tension. "After the little prayer, Mr. Trump turned to Secretary Clinton and said, 'You are one tough and talented woman,' " said Dolan.
Clinton was quick to return the sentiment, Dolan said, stating, "Donald, whatever happens, we need to work together afterward."
Despite that private amenity, however, Dolan admitted there was a hostile nature to the candidates' jokes. "It is very tough for people to be self-deprecating," he said. "Last night, the two candidates, the butt of their jokes was the other person."
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