Associated Press

If you missed the presidential debates or the Republican or Democratic conventions, it's possible that the jokes from the annual Al Smith dinner might have gone over your head.

The Al Smith dinner is an event that raises money for Catholic charities in honor of former New York Gov. Al Smith, the first Catholic presidential candidate. The evening involves a political roast, where presidential candidates poke fun at each other and themselves.

Here's an analysis of some of the jokes and jabs Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama threw Thursday night.

Romney and Sesame Street
Richard Termine

During the roast, Mitt Romney offered a few tips for preparing for presidential debates. His tips included refraining from alcohol for 65 years and finding the biggest available straw man to mercilessly attack.

"Big Bird didn't even see it coming," Romney said.

The comment referred to the first presidential debate where Romney said he would cut funding for PBS, which is home to Sesame Street.

President Obama jumped on the debate comment in the following days, releasing a campaign ad and showing his support for Big Bird and Sesame Street.

"In the spirit of Sesame Street, the president's remarks tonight are brought to you by the letter O and the number 16 trillion," Romney joked Thursday.

Obama and "eastwooding"
Associated Press

When President Obama took the stage at the Thursday dinner, he began by telling everyone to take their seats.

"Otherwise Clint Eastwood will yell at them," Obama said.

The president was referring to actor Clint Eastwood's speech at the Republican National Convention, where Eastwood interacted with an empty chair he said represented President Barack Obama.


Obama and Romney's wealth
Associated Press

"Earlier today, I went shopping at some stores in Midtown," Obama said at the Thursday event. "I understand Governor Romney went shopping for some stores in Midtown."

The president has made Romney's wealth a campaign issue, arguing that Romney is out of touch with average voters who pay a higher income tax rate even though they earn far less than Romney, Stephan Dinan wrote at the Washington Times.

In the second debate, Obama joked that Romney's pension was larger than his.

Obama and unemployment rate
Associated Press

"Of course, the economy's on everybody's mind," Obama said Thursday. "The unemployment rate is at its lowest level since I took office... I don't have a joke here — I just thought it'd be useful to remind everybody."

The unemployment had been at 8.1 percent in August before it fell to 7.8 percent for September, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The New York Times suggested the drop indicated "a steadier recovery than previously thought," and delivered "another jolt to the presidential campaign."

Romney and Vice President Joe Biden
Associated Press

"I was actually hoping the President would bring Joe Biden along this evening, because he'll laugh at anything," Romney joked at the beginning of his roast Thursday.

The comment was a reference to Biden's behavior during the vice presidential debate on Oct. 11.

After the vice presidential debate, Chris Wallace of Fox News hammered Biden's smiling and laughing during the debate, saying that he's never seen anyone act so disrespectfully in a presidential or vice presidential debate.


Romney and Bill Clinton
Associated Press

"President Obama and I are each very lucky to have one person who's always in our corner, someone who we can lean on, and someone who's a comforting presence, without whom we wouldn't be able to go another day," Romney said. "I have my beautiful wife Ann. He has Bill Clinton."

Clinton has stood by Obama throughout this election, appearing in Obama campaign commercials, in stump speeches and at the Democratic National Convention.

Obama and the first debate
Associated Press

"Some of you may have noticed I had a lot more energy in our second debate," Obama said at the dinner. "I felt really well rested after the nice long nap I had during the first debate."

Obama's joke was a jab at himself and his poor performance in the first debate against Romney.

"Although it turns out millions of Americans focused in on the second debate who didn't focus in on the first debate," Obama said. "I happen to be one of them."

Obama and Michelle
Associated Press

"Tomorrow it's back to campaigning, to the cities and towns across our great country," Obama said. "And I hear the same thing everywhere I go—'honestly, we were hoping to see Michelle.'"

Each of the candidates' wives have shown support for their husbands and have helped on the campaign trail.

"When it comes to the popularity of Obama vs. Romney, voters are clear: They prefer Michelle and Ann to Barack or Mitt," Catalina Camia wrote at USA Today.

Voters aren't picking a president based on their spouses, the article said, "But every advantage can count in a close race, and spouses can play a very public role in the campaigns," according to Gary Langer, ABC's polling director.

More coverage
Associated Press

Check out the links below for more coverage on the presidential candidates at the Al Smith dinner,

News analysis: Mitt Romney, President Barack Obama share a more friendly stage (+video)

After a few laughs, Romney, Obama back to the fray

Surprise! Obama, Romney respect each other as family men