At this year’s Al Smith Dinner, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan doled out the event’s trademark deprecating humor with zingers aimed at both sides of the aisle—and the White House.
“Everyone will report what happened here tonight differently,” Mr. Ryan said. “Breitbart will lead with ‘Ryan slams the president amongst liberal elites.’ The New York Times will report, ‘Ryan defends the president in a state Hillary won.’ And the president will tweet, ‘300,000 at Al Smith dinner cheer mention of my name.’”
Paul Ryan: “Everyone will report what happened here tonight differently.”
The Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner is an annual charity event hosted by the Archdiocese of New York that raises money for women and children living in poverty in the city. Last year, the event drew particular attention—to the tune of 10.3 million television viewers and a record-breaking $6 million raised—when the keynote speakers were then-presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump.
This year’s event raised $3.4 million, a record for a non-election year.
Catholic actress Patricia Heaton emceed the event. “She is a Hollywood Republican,” Mr. Ryan said. “Hollywood Republican—that is an oxymoron, which clearly was the word Rex Tillerson was looking for.”
“I’m from Wisconsin,” Mr. Ryan continued. “It’s a great state to visit in the fall. Looking back, someone should have told Hillary.”
Paul Ryan: “We can achieve so much when we tackle poverty eye to eye and soul to soul.”
Mr. Ryan also made fun of himself, a tradition for the event’s keynote speaker.
“In November a few years ago, Cardinal Dolan himself ran for office in the 2007 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, but he lost for vice president,” Mr. Ryan said. “Join the club.”
Mr. Ryan wrapped up his speech on a more serious note, talking about the charitable work he had seen earlier in the day at The New York Foundling and several weeks ago at a shelter in Texas.
“We can achieve so much when we tackle poverty eye to eye and soul to soul. As Catholics, we call this solidarity and subsidiarity,” Mr. Ryan said, echoing the vision of Catholic social teaching he described in America in 2014.
Mr. Ryan ended the speech asking for prayers for the victims of recent hurricanes and the fires in California and those facing the aftermath of the mass shooting in Las Vegas.
“A lot of people are hurting tonight. Please keep them in your prayers. May they, in the fullness of time, find comfort and renewal.”