The 63rd annual Alfred E. Smith dinner

The 63rd annual Alfred E. Smith dinner was an historic opportunity for both presidential candidates to relax, have fun, and poke fun of themselves, each other, and to a large degree, Bill Clinton. It was likely the the last time the candidates will publicly meet before the election, and I was honored to be chosen as the official photographer. The event raised more than $4 million for Catholic charities. I got more photos of Obama for the simple reason that he arrived earlier, but everyone seemed in surprisingly good spirits after a long, exhausting campaign. Here is just a small sample of the evening’s events:

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Among the luminaries was former Secretary of State Henry Kissenger

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Senator Barack Obama meets New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. “How’s your dad?” He asked.

John.
Senator John McCain greets a supporter.

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Obama shakes hands with a supporter, wearing the bracelet that was a major subject of the first presidential debate.

Change.
Obama shares words with New York Governor David Paterson.

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Obama speaks with Senator Charles Schumer.

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Obama and McCain speak to the Rev. Cardinal Egan. At left are Cindy McCain and Geraldine Ferraro.

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Soprano Renee Fleming sings Ave Maria

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John McCain had perhaps the funniest moment of the night at the end of his speech, where he set up unrealistically high expectations for Obama. “It will be the funniest 15 minutes of your life … if not, it will bring shame on this event and its hosts.”

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McCain’s campaign photographer takes a cell phone shot as he speaks.

Barack.
Obama addresses the crowd. “I have the politics of Alfred E. Smith and the ears of Alfred E. Neumann”

Stage Left
McCains’ handler gestures as John and Cindy McCain exit, stage left.

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Senator Hillary Clinton greets supporters.

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Mayor Mike Bloomberg sports a flag pin and a NYC pin.

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Comedian Mo Rocca and broadcast journalist Katie Couric smile after the event. Rocca joked that he is making this his Christmas card.

Obama, McCain, and Me

Watch for the back of my head on C-SPAN tonight. The Al Smith dinner is a super-high profile charity drive for the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, and likely the last time that Obama and McCain will appear together before the election. Other than one photographer from each campaign, I am the only photographer allowed on the premises tonight. It is an incredible honor that the Archdiocese has selected me for this and I can’t wait … my tux is ready!