President Donald J. Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. were the honored speakers at
the 75th Annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner Virtual Event
on Thursday, October 1, 2020 held at the Cardinal’s residence.
A hybrid event was originally scheduled at the Wave Hill gardens in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. New York State government expressed their understandable concerns about the fifty person gathering, and, in the interest of the safety and protection of our speakers and guests, it was decided that the year’s Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner would be a virtual event.
The event featured our distinguished speakers, President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., and hosts Timothy Cardinal Dolan , Archbishop of New York and Mary Erdoes , Vice Chair of the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation . President Trump and Vice President Biden participated remotely. Cardinal Dolan and Mary Erdoes were broadcasting live from the Cardinal’s residence.
The National Anthem was performed by Nadine Sierra from New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
In a tradition extending back to 1960 with then Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon, U.S. presidential nominees have served as the evening’s celebrated speakers at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, leaving political differences at the door for one night of collegiality and good humor before the election. The Al Smith Dinner has come to be regarded as one of our culture’s last bastions of non-partisan unity, where the political, business, and cultural leaders come together, regardless of political affiliations, to raise money for the most vulnerable members of society, underserved children.
This year, the legacy of Governor Alfred E. Smith takes on greater meaning. He was the last governor to lead our state through a pandemic. As such, the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation dedicated this year’s event to the frontline and essential workers of New York who worked valiantly to keep the city running and the people of New York healthy and safe when the pandemic touched ground in our city. Their lessons in compassion and heroism raised the bar for what can be accomplished when we come together as city and a country. This too was the message of the “Happy Warrior” Governor Alfred E. Smith, who worked diligently to protect the interests of those most in need, even when doing so meant reaching across the aisle.
A live feed and satellite channel were made available to the press.
In the early years of the dinner’s existence, this event might have been the only time some of these candidates would share a dais during the entire campaign. By 1960 the Al Smith dinner had truly reached its zenith as “a ritual of American politics,” in the words of Theodore H. White. Many past dinners have generated front-page news items as a result of the program, i.e. joint appearances of opposing presidential nominees.
Today the dinner remains a true phenomenon — a living memorial to an uncommon public figure, best known as the first Roman Catholic presidential candidate, who died more than six decades ago. Doubtless the dinner’s honoree would be deeply gratified that he is being remembered each year in this fashion. He would be even more gratified to know that the dinner commemorating him and his unique role in American politics has contributed millions of dollars for charitable endeavors in the city he loved so much.
Please direct inquiries to: Phone: 646.794.3315 | Fax:212.753.5980 | Email: AlSmithDinner@archny.org
For press inquiries: Email: AlSmithMedia@archny.org