Obama and Romney trade jokes at charity dinner

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both spoke at the Alfred Smith charity dinner. Photo: Reuters

For two men exhausted by a gruelling schedule they were both pretty funny. Yes, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama were merely reading jokes prepared by their speech writers but they tried to deliver the punch lines with smiles and good-humour.

It certainly required some pivot. After brutally attacking each for weeks on the trail, the two candidates had to turn up to a charity dinner in Manhattan, sponsored by the Catholic Archdiocese in New York, to make jokes and appear to like each other.

Perhaps the best joke was made by the host of the event. He turned to Romney (who of course is a Mormon) and said: “Governor Romney, your father was born in Mexico and had five kids. Are you sure you’re not Catholic?”

Romney's funniest jokes? Take your pick (remember as a Mormon, he doesn't drink):

“Usually when I get invited to gatherings like this, it’s to be the designated driver.”

“My tip for debate prep is: first, refrain from alcohol for 65 years.”

Romney also had a dig at how the media would report the night:

“The headlines will be: ‘Obama embraced by Catholics, Romney dines with rich people.’ ”

President Obama was more self-deprecating, mostly mocking his poor performance in the first debate:

“I had a lot more energy in the second debate. I was well rested after the nice long nap I had during the first debate.”

Then he made a dig at Romney's wealth:

“Earlier, I went shopping at stores in Midtown. I understand Governor Romney went shopping FOR stores in midtown.”

But he got a bit of a pre-debate jab in as well (they meet again in Florida on Monday night):

“The next debate is on foreign policy,” Obama said. “Spoiler alert: We got bin Laden.”

Overall, both were surprisingly funny given how little they like each other and how, in just 18 days, one will be the President of the United States and the other will be rejected - and utterly dejected.