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Obama, Romney Poised For Moments Of Levity At Al Smith Dinner Thursday

Archdiocese Of N.Y. Event Is Supposed To Be Civil, But Who Knows This Time?
President Barack Obama (Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)/Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (Photo credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages)

President Barack Obama (Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)/Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (Photo credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Just 48 hours after they went toe-to-toe in a rancorous debate on Long Island, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney will be back Thursday – in Midtown at the Waldorf-Astoria for the Al Smith Dinner.

The Archdiocese of New York’s Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation will host its 67th annual dinner at the opulent hotel on Thursday evening. It is named for former New York Gov. Al Smith, the first Catholic nominated, in 1928, as a candidate for president.

The New York Times characterizes the dinner as “a light-hearted pit stop for presidential candidates in the heated final weeks of the campaign.”

Four years ago, the Al Smith Dinner made headlines as Obama and U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) let loose with some self-deprecating humor and traded some good-natured barbs.

“This campaign needed the common touch of the working man. After all, it began so long ago with the heralded arrival of the man known to Oprah Winfrey as ‘The One.’ Being a friend and colleague of Barack, I just called him ‘That One,’” McCain said in reference to his bully-like tactics in the second presidential debate. “He doesn’t mind at all. In fact, he even has a pet name for me: ‘George Bush.’”

For his part, Obama quipped, “Who is Barack Obama? Contrary to the rumors you may have heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-El, to save the planet Earth.”

But four years later, good-natured and light-hearted moments between Obama and Romney have been few between. At the second presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead Tuesday night, the candidates became so confrontational toward each other that CBS News’ Scott Pelley called it “the most rancorous presidential debate ever.”

The candidates broke from answering questions to the crowd and addressed each other personally, and aggressively, on subjects such as energy policy, women’s health and the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

And in one of the early heated moments, Romney said he has a five-point plan to create 12 million jobs, but Obama dismissed it all as a “one-point plan” that consists of protecting “those at the top.”

A total of 1,600 attendees were set to attend the dinner, for a price of at least $2,500 per person.

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