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Barack Obama And Mitt Romney Address Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation DinnerI’ve enjoyed this election. Unlike a lot of people, and unlike in 2008, I’ve generally found this race to be both serious and stimulating in its own right and a good starter to some (sometimes fruitful) political conversations.

Last night, Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama spoke at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York City. Their speeches represent — at least to me — some of the highlights of this campaign, as they’re full of alternating self-deprecation and zingers on the other guy, and each ends on notes of graciousness and rapport. The Al Smith dinner speeches are a tradition started by Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy in 1960, and they represent some of the values — of disagreement without disagreeableness — that should make us all feel that cliché phrase, proud to be American

Amidst the bitterness and venom of the election season, it’s refreshing to watch the following clips. (You don’t have to take sides as to who won.)

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Mitt Romney

“President Obama and I are each very lucky to have one person who is always in our corner, someone who we can lean on, and someone who is a comforting presence. Without whom, we wouldn’t be able to go another day. I have my beautiful wife, Ann, he has Bill Clinton.”

Barack Obama

“This is the third time that Governor Romney and I have met recently. As some of you may have noticed, I had a lot more energy in our second debate. I felt really well rested after the nice long nap I had in the first debate.”