Two days after their contentious second debate, U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney will meet again in a far more congenial setting Thursday night in New York City.
The two candidates will speak at an annual fundraising dinner hosted by the city’s Catholic Archdiocese at the luxury Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Unlike their heated exchanges in Tuesday’s debate, Obama and Romney are expected to deliver humorous speeches in keeping with the spirit and tradition of the event.
At a New Hampshire rally Thursday ahead of the dinner, Obama continued to hammer his opponent’s plans for the economy. He told supporters Romney’s tax plan did not add up and his deficit-reduction plan would not cut the U.S. federal deficit.
In a statement posted Thursday on his campaign’s website, Republican Senator Marco Rubio accused Obama of “broken promises and reckless spending” that he said had weakened the country.
Thursday’s dinner is named after Al Smith, a former Democratic governor of New York state and the first Roman Catholic presidential nominee in 1928.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the head of the New York Archdiocese, says he received countless e-mails urging him to cancel the invitation to the president because of the new health-care law’s mandate for insurance companies to cover the cost of birth control. The Catholic Church is opposed to birth control.
But Cardinal Dolan has avoided coming down in favor of either candidate this year, delivering closing prayers at both the Democratic and Republican national conventions.
The dinner raises millions of dollars for poor and needy children in the diocese.
Democratic Senator John F. Kennedy and Republican Vice President Richard Nixon were the first pair of White House candidates to attend the event in 1960.
In 2008, then-Senator Obama attended along with Senator John McCain, who was the Republican presidential nominee.
The third and final presidential debate will be held next Monday in Florida, and will focus exclusively on foreign policy.