sabato 18 ottobre 2008


NEW YORK -Barack Obama and John McCain appeared together at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner. The entertaining pool report here comes from the New York Times' Jeff Zeleny:

Sen. Barack Obama was preceded - actually, introduced - at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner by Sen. John McCain, who took the first turn at the lectern. He delivered many lines that left Mr. Obama laughing out loud.

"I can't shake that feeling that some people here are pulling for me," Mr. McCain said, turning to the far side of the stage. "I'm delighted to see you here tonight, Hillary."

Mr. McCain assured those in the ballroom that his rival was not fazed by being called, "That one," during the second presidential debate.

"He doesn't mind at all, in fact, he even has a pet name for me: George Bush," Mr. McCain said.

Mr. McCain offered several words of praise, which Mr. Obama acknowledged with applause and a nod of the head.

"My opponent is an impressive fellow in many ways. Political opponents can have a little trouble seeing the best in each other. I have seen this man at his best. I admire his great skill, energy and determination," Mr. McCain said. "It's not for nothing that he has inspired so many folks in his own party and beyond. Senator Obama talks about making history and he's made quite a bit of it already.

"There was a time when the mere invitation of an African American citizen to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage and an insult in many quarters. Today, it's world away from the cruel and frightful bigotry of that time. And good riddance.

"I can't wish my opponent luck, but I do wish him well."

After a handshake, Mr. Obama took the lectern for his turn.

"I was originally told the venue would be Yankee Stadium. Can somebody tell me what happened to the Greek columns that I requested?" Mr. Obama said.

Later, he added: "I do love the Waldorf Astoria. I hear from the doorstep you can see all the way to the Russian Tea Room."

(Yes, Mr. McCain laughed. A lot.)

Mr. Obama, noting his age, said he did not have the pleasure of knowing Al Smith, but added: "From everything Senator McCain has told me, he was a great man."

Then, he gave a shout out to Mayor Bloomberg.

"The mayor recently announced some news that he would be rewriting the rules and have a third term, which prompted Bill Clinton to say: You can do that?" Mr. Obama said.

As Mrs. Clinton laughed on stage, Mr. Obama added: "I'm glad to see you made it Hillary. I hear Chuck Schumer tried to tell you that we really did move this event to Yankee Stadium."

Mr. Obama continued with Mrs. Clinton, saying: "She's the primary reason I have all this gray in my hair now."

Mr. Obama called it "a tribute to American democracy" that the two rivals could come together two weeks before the election to "sit down at the same dinner table without preconditions."

He drew boos from the crowd when he tried making a joke about AIG, noting that the fine wine and gourmet food resembled a retreat of the troubled insurance company.

Finally, Mr. Obama did a riff on the question that Mr. McCain has been asking voters: Who is the real Barack Obama?

"I actually was not born in a manger," Mr. Obama said.

"Barack is actually Swahili for That One," he added.

"I got my middle name from somebody who obviously didn't think I would ever run for president," he continued.

He predicted that several October surprises were likely to occur, including: "My middle name is actually Steve," he said, speaking over loud applause. "Barack Steve Obama."

The McCains - the senator and his wife - clapped only tepidly when Mr. Obama said, "Fox News accused me of having two African American children in wedlock." The crowd, it seemed, wasn't sure how to respond.

Mr. Obama praised the service that Mr. McCain has made to the nation, saying: "I'm proud to be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with you."

He closed on a serious note.

"No matter what differences or divisions or arguments we are having right now, we ultimately belong to something bigger and more lasting than political parties," Mr. Obama said. "We belong to a community, we share a country, we are all children of God. In this country there are millions of fellow citizens, our brothers and sisters, who need us very much - especially now."

The motorcade waited about 30 minutes before departing at 10:20 p.m. for the final event of the evening: the fund-raiser with Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel.