House Speaker Paul D. Ryan jumped at the opportunity Thursday to poke a little fun at President Donald Trump’s expense.
The Wisconsin Republican delivered a series of jokes, many aimed at the president’s tweeting habits, ego, and former chief political strategist Steve Bannon at a formal charity dinner in New York.
“Cardinal Dolan gave a benediction at President Trump’s inaugural,” Ryan said, referring to New York’s Catholic archbishop, who was also in attendance. “There was just this one kind of awkward moment when the cardinal talked about the infallible, enlightened supreme being. The president stood up and took a bow.”
A White House spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on Ryan’s address.
Ryan delivered the keynote speech at the 72nd Al Smith Dinner, a fundraiser, named after the first Catholic presidential nominee, that raises money for poor children. The speaker is himself Catholic.
Ryan’s speech was consistent with keynotes from years past that have deployed humor to rib politicians and other Washington figures. The sitting president is almost always the top target.
The speaker did not pull punches on other political heavyweights either.
Ryan flippantly remarked that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, 66, is part of the Democratic party’s “youth movement.”
Trump caused ripples at the dinner the previous year for launching into an attack on his co-keynote speaker and Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, who he called “so corrupt.”
A year later, Ryan tried to make light of the squirmy memory.
“I know last year that Donald Trump offended some people,” Ryan said. “I know his comments, according to critics, went too far. Some said it was unbecoming of a public figure, and they said that his comments were offensive.
“Well,” he added sarcastically, “thank God he’s learned his lesson.”
The remarks came a little over a year after Trump called the speaker a “very weak and ineffective leader” of the Republican Party and belittled him for being on the GOP’s losing presidential ticket in 2012.
When the president secured the Republican nomination in 2016, Ryan at first withheld his support for Trump. He later endorsed him.
Schumer was also scheduled to be at the dinner, but a vote-a-rama on the budget resolution — the vehicle for a tax code overhaul — kept him at the Capitol.