From allegations of sexual assault to corruption claims and nasty nicknames, the race for the White House has been a poisonous battle.
So an evening where Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton made jokes about each other – and themselves – during a posh charity dinner came as much-needed light relief.
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Just one night after a tense televised debate, their speeches at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, a fundraiser for ill children, took a very different tone.
In what was more like an amateur stand-up comedy night than presidential candidates’ speeches, the rivals traded some stinging barbs.
Clinton mocked Trump’s claims about her physical health, while Trump arguably had the joke of the night, which came at his wife Melania’s expense.
Admitting that ‘this one’s going to get me in trouble’, he referenced Melania’s speech that sparked plagiarism accusations.
He said: ‘Michelle Obama gives a speech and everyone loves it, it’s fantastic.
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‘My wife Melania gives the exact same speech and people get on her case. And I don’t get it.’
The largely good-natured evening, where the candidates sat either side of Cardinal Timothy Doland of New York, is entrenched in tradition – every four years the candidates attend the dinner to joke about their rivalry.
Trump added: ‘I’ve known Hillary for a long time and this is the first time ever that Hillary is sitting down and speaking to major corporate leaders and not getting paid for it. It’s true.’
But Clinton came back with some heat of her own.
Referencing her health, she said: ‘I took a break from my rigorous nap schedule to be here.’
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And she told him: ‘Donald, if at any time you don’t like what I’m saying, feel free to stand up and shout, ‘wrong!’ while I’m talking.’
Uncomfortable laughs came from the room when she joked: ‘People look at the Statue of Liberty and they see a proud symbol of our history as a nation of immigrants, a beacon of hope around the world.
‘Donald looks at the Statue of Liberty and sees a four. Maybe a five if she removes the torch and tablet and changes her hair.’
Sealed with a handshake (Picture: AP)
But the evening wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows as a couple of Trump’s harsh gags went down badly with the audience (of course).
He claimed she was ‘pretending not to hate Catholics’ and again insisted she was ‘corrupt’.
However, the evening was mostly light-hearted – Trump stood up while applauding Clinton’s speech, and they exchanged a smile and handshake at the end.