- Outgoing UN Ambassador Nikki Haley gave the keynote address at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York City on Thursday night.
- It was the first major appearance Haley has made since she announced her impending resignation last week.
- During the dinner, which is traditionally comical, Haley poked fun at President Donald Trump’s recent UN address, Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test, and her fellow Trump administration officials.
Outgoing United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley showed off her sense of humour during a speech at a high-profile charity dinner in New York City on Thursday night.
Haley was the keynote speaker at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, an annual white-tie gala that benefits Catholic charities and is hosted by by the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
President Donald Trump, Winston Churchill, and former President John F. Kennedy have spoken at the dinner in years past, which traditionally resembles more of a stand-up routine.
In front of a crowd of about 700, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, billionaire Michael Bloomberg, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Haley poked fun at Trump, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions among others.
Here are some of the jokes that got the biggest laughs Thursday night:
- “A couple of weeks ago I had this great breakfast with Cardinal Dolan, and I asked him if there was anything I could do to really boost attendance. … He said, ‘Why don’t you resign as UN ambassador?’ You didn’t tell me you were kidding!”
- On the president’s advice for Haley’s speech: “He said if I get stuck for laughs, just brag about his accomplishments. It really killed at the UN, I got to tell you.”
- “Two years ago, Trump was here and made some waves with his remarks. … So last year you went with Paul Ryan, who’s a Boy Scout and that’s fine, but a little boring. So this year, you wanted to spice things up again. I get it, you wanted an Indian woman, but Elizabeth Warren failed her DNA test. Actually, when the president found out that I was Indian-American, he asked me if I was from the same tribe as Elizabeth Warren.”
- “I really am super excited to be at the Al Smith Dinner. As a member of the Trump Cabinet, it is a thrill to be out to dinner without being harassed.”
- “As a member of the UN delegation, I do have diplomatic immunity … an exemption from prosecution, or as Mayor De Blasio calls it, a sanctuary city!”
- “I saw Jeff Sessions earlier today – not in New York. I saw him on LinkedIn looking for a job. Actually we both were.”
- “Jeff Flake was going to be here, but he wanted to give the FBI a week to look into it.”
- “People always wonder if I felt different or isolated as an Indian-American growing up in rural South Carolina. Actually, there was a benefit. It totally prepared me for being a Republican in New York.”
It wasn’t all jokes for Haley, though, on Thursday night. At one point, she turned serious and appeared to call out Trump’s political antagonism.
“In our toxic political environment, I’ve heard some people in both parties describe their opponents as enemies or evil,” Haley said. “In America, our political opponents are not evil.”
New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman said in a tweet that this comment was “why folks in the West Wing were so annoyed with the showy Haley departure – they knew she would take shots [at] Trump from the outside. Started early.”
Thursday night’s speech was the first major public appearance Haley has made since she announced last week her intention to resign from her post at the end of the year.
The move sparked discussion about whether Haley might be intending to run for president, perhaps even challenging Trump for the Republican nomination in 2020, but Haley shot down those rumours during a press conference at the White House – going so far as to say she intended to help campaign for the president.
However, her resignation was seen by many as a way for Haley, who has become a highly respected figure, to distance herself from the chaos of the Trump administration so that she can pursue higher office later on.
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