NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 18: (L - R) U.S. President Barack Obama, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Ann Romney look on at the start of the 67th Annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on October 18, 2012 in New York City. The lighthearted white-tie charity gala has long been a tradition of the presidential race. (Credit: Getty Images)
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney poked fun at himself and at President Barack Obama, telling a white tie and gown crowd at the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner in New York City on Thursday that, "it's nice to finally relax and wear what Ann and I wear around the house."
A laid-back Romney joked with the audience throughout his brief address as his rival President Barack Obama looked on. Through much of the evening, he sat just one chair down from the president. Only host Cardinal Timothy Dolan separated them.
Romney wasn't shy about including Obama in his remarks. Including this zinger:
“Of course we’re down to the final months of the president’s term...As President Obama surveys the Waldorf banquet room, with everyone in white tie and finery, you have to wonder what he’s thinking. So little time, so much to redistribute.”
Romney also jabbed at Obama's running mate, saying he wished the president had brought Vice President Joe Biden "because he’ll laugh at anything."
Referring to his "Big Bird" remarks in the first presidential debate, Romney delivered this zinger: "In the spirit of Sesame Street, the president's remarks tonight are brought to you by the letter 'O' and the number 16 trillion."
On a roll, the Republican pointed out that both candidates have people they rely heavily on. "I have my beautiful wife, Ann, he's got Bill Clinton," Romney joked.
Romney looked comfortable and confident on the stage and spoke ahead of the president. Obama appeared to be a good sport as he listened to Romney roast him.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) speaks as U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Alfred E. Smith IV (C) laugh at the 67th Annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on October 18, 2012 in New York City. The lighthearted white-tie charity gala has long been a tradition of the presidential race. (Credit: Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama (2nd L) and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) share a laugh as Ann Romney (R) looks on at the 67th Annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on October 18, 2012 in New York City. The lighthearted white-tie charity gala has long been a tradition of the presidential race. (Credit: Getty Images)
After he was done making fun of himself and his opponent, Romney set his sights on the media with a light-hearted, funny because it's kind of true, slam.
"I never suggest that the press is biased. I recognize they have their job to do and I have a job to do. My job is to lay out a positive vision for the country, and their job is to make sure no one else finds out about it," he joked.
He jokingly predicted Friday's headlines about the charity dinner would read something like, "Obama Embraced by Catholics, Romney Dines With Rich People."
Romney concluded by saying "there's more to life than politics," suggesting that he may disagree with Obama's politics but harbors no "ill will" towards the president.
"Don't tell anyone I said so, but our 44th president has many gifts and a beautiful family that would make any man proud," Romney said.
Watch Romney's speech here:
Newsday has more background on the event:
The white-tie affair raises millions for the Gov. Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation and is organized by the Catholic Archdiocese of New York to benefit needy children.
More than 1,600 were scheduled to attend the dinner. The menu includes poached lobster tail and dark chocolate tropical fruit cadeau. Tickets start at $2,500.
The diocese hopes to raise $5 million in grants this year. Last year it gave out $2 million in grants.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This story has been updated with additional information.