Presidential nominees John McCain and Barack Obama will have a unique opportunity next month to showcase their humor and personalities. The two senators are slated to be co-guest speakers at the 63rd annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York.
Begun two years after the death of Smith in 1944, then-New York Cardinal Francis Spellman hosted the first dinner to honor Smith, the first Catholic to be nominated by a major political party to run for president. Smith also served as the governor of New York from 1919-1920 and 1923-1928 and was known as the patron of the Little People.”
The October 16 dinner, hosted by the current New York Cardinal Edward Egan, will give the guest speakers the opportunity to show how well they speak when they aren’t on a political stage. Or, as stated on the foundations site, the dinner serves as a kind of “proving ground for the candidate as entertainer.”
It is traditional that candidates for president are invited to speak at the dinner.
Guest speakers in the recent years include: Tony Blair, Brian Williams, George H.W. Bush, Hugh L. Carey, Tommy R. Franks and Colin L. Powell.
The event will be McCain’s second guest speaking appearance at the Smith Foundation dinner, and a first for Obama.
Proceeds from the dinner will go to help the poor and sick within the Archdiocese of New York.