At the height of the 2012 Republican National Convention, Clint Eastwood, the Hollywood filmmaker who knows all about sticking to the script, made a “surprise” appearance, delivering a sometimes humorous, other times scathing speech.
Republican Mitt Romney probably hoped that surprise guest Clint Eastwood would make his day at the convention — instead, the 82-year-old gave a rambling speech that was as disastrous as the botched bank robbery that he stopped in “Dirty Harry” while playing a jaded San Francisco cop, reports The Huff Post.
Standing on the convention stage with an empty chair, Eastwood carried on a sometimes rambling conversation with an imaginary President Barack Obama. The Oscar-winning director of “Unforgiven” and “Million Dollar Baby” criticized Obama for failing to turn the economy around and for wanting to close the Guant√°namo Bay prison for terror suspects.
“So Mr. President, how do you handle the promises you’ve made? What do you say?” Eastwood asked the imaginary Obama. “I know even some of the people in your party were disappointed you didn’t close Gitmo,” the Guantanamo prison.
He then proceeded to rankle Obama for his administration’s proposal to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed in New York, a plan from which he later backed down, and the war in Afghanistan, for which Romney has endorsed the same withdrawal timeline.
“I think Mr. Romney asked the only sensible question, you know, he says, “Why are you giving the date out now? Why don’t you just bring them home tomorrow morning?” Eastwood added.
The crowd cheered hard, perhaps out of sympathy for the famous actor, creating the awkward spectacle of a Republican convention roaring for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from the battlefield.
At another point, the 82-year-old Eastwood acted as if he were listening to the imaginary Obama unleash a diatribe against Romney, poking Vice President Joe Biden and letting the convention audience guess what the president said.
“He can’t do that to himself. You’re absolutely crazy!” Eastwood responded. “You’re getting as bad as Biden. Biden is the intellect in the Democratic Party. It’s just kind of a grin with a body behind it.”
At one point, Eastwood talked about the need for change. “When somebody doesn’t do the job, you gotta let ’em go,” Eastwood said. The tough-guy actor of “Dirty Harry” fame drew a finger across his throat.
Someone in the crowd shouted out “make my day!” to which he responded, “I don’t say that word anymore.”¬†He shortly obliged. “Go ahead,” he said, and the crowd boomed “Make My Day!”
The freewheeling performance was a sharp contrast to the highly choreographed convention in which the Romney campaign has vetted the speeches.
Backstage, stern-faced Romney aides winced at times as Eastwood’s remarks stretched on. The actor was the only speaker not reading from a teleprompter as he spoke. The machine was blank.
Twitter was instantly ablaze with comments mocking Eastwood’s speech. Howard Kurtz, host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” tweeted that “Clint’s empty chair act” was the “weirdest convention moment I have ever seen.”
Joe Scarborough, the conservative host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” declared “a great night for Mitt Romney just got sidetracked by Clint Eastwood. Wow. That was bad.”
Eastwood, a long-time Republican, endorsed Mitt Romney earlier this month after remaining neutral throughout the party’s long primary season.
The 82-year-old told a fundraiser that the immaculately-coiffured candidate was “too handsome to be governor but he does look like he could be president.”
Eastwood has made several forays into politics and in 1986 successfully ran as a Republican to become mayor of Carmel, the wealthy Californian beach city where he lived.
The Romney campaign seemed to grasp how Eastwood’s bizarre, unscripted speech fell flat. “Judging an American icon like Clint Eastwood through a typical political lens doesn’t work,” was the campaign’s response on Twitter.
This morning Mr Obama‚Äôs official twitter feed released a picture of the back of the seated President, saying: ‚ÄúThis seat‚Äôs taken.‚ÄĚ The photo has subsequently already been retweeted over 26,000 times.