Trouble with the chair: Clint mocked for RNC bit
by Derrik J Lang, Associated Press
August 31, 2012 09:09 AM | 1801 views | 17 17 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Actor Clint Eastwood addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Actor Clint Eastwood addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Clint Eastwood earned plenty of bad reviews for his latest performance: a bizarre, rambling endorsement of Mitt Romney.

"Clint, my hero, is coming across as sad and pathetic," tweeted film critic Roger Ebert as Eastwood ad-libbed Thursday night to an audience of millions — and one empty chair — on stage at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. "He didn't need to do this to himself. It's unworthy of him."

Eastwood carried on a kooky, long-winded conversation with an imaginary President Barack Obama, telling him that he failed to deliver on his promises, and it's time for Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, to take over.

"Mr. President, how do you handle promises that you have made when you were running for election, and how do you handle them? I mean, what do you say to people?" he said at one point to the empty chair.

Twitter was instantly ablaze with comments mocking the Oscar-winning director of "Unforgiven" and "Million Dollar Baby."

"Clint has now eclipsed the total word count of his last three films," tweeted film critic Richard Roeper during the speech, which was intended to last five minutes but went on for nearly 12.

Howard Kurtz, host of CNN's "Reliable Sources," said "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 that "a great night for Mitt Romney just got sidetracked by Clint Eastwood."

Minutes after Eastwood began his speech, someone created an (at)InvisibleObama account on Twitter. It has already amassed 30,000 followers and counting.

"I heard that Clint Eastwood was channeling me at the RNC," tweeted comic actor Bob Newhart, known for his one-sided conversation bits. "My lawyers and I are drafting our lawsuit."

The 82-year-old actor and director also talked about Oprah Winfrey, Obama's unfulfilled promise to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and lawyers. At one point, he referenced dismissing Obama and making a change.

"When somebody doesn't do the job, you gotta let 'em go," Eastwood said. The tough-guy actor of "Dirty Harry" fame then drew a finger across his throat.

The Obama campaign shot back afterward by tweeting a photo of the back of the president's chair, with Obama's head peeking over it, along with the line: "This seat's taken."

Romney's wife, Ann, said she appreciates Eastwood's support, even if the actor's monologue isn't earning rave reviews. Ann Romney said she did not know what to expect when Eastwood came on as a warm up act for the evening's speakers.

"He's a unique guy and he did a unique thing last night," she told "CBS This Morning."

Eastwood, a fiscal conservative who takes left-leaning stands on social issues such as gay marriage and environmental protections, made waves with conservatives earlier this year when he starred in a Super Bowl spot for Chrysler, a company that benefited from government support. Eastwood, who endorsed Romney earlier this month at a campaign event in Sun Valley, Idaho, and once served as mayor of Carmel, Calif., defended his appearance in the commercial, noting it had nothing to do with his politics.

Inside the convention, the crowd cheered Eastwood's entrance and shouted his famed catchphrase, "Go ahead, make my day." But backstage, stern-faced Romney aides winced at times as Eastwood's remarks stretched on. After his speech, Romney's camp defended Eastwood.

"He's an American icon," Romney spokeswoman Gail Gitcho told CNN's Piers Morgan. "You can't look at him at through the same political lens that you would other politicians. He's Clint Eastwood."

There was seemingly more discussion Thursday night on Twitter about Eastwood's awkward performance than Romney's actual acceptance speech.

"Is this a segment for 'Mrs. Eastwood and Company'?" asked "Star Trek" actor Zachary Quinto on Twitter, referencing the "Keeping Up with the Kardashians"-like E! reality series starring Eastwood's wife, Dina.

Several celebrities and comedians lightheartedly hypothesized on the micro-blogging site how Democrats could top the over-the-top routine at their own convention in Charlotte, N.C., next week.

"To restore balance to the universe, Obama must have Tommy Chong onstage at the DNC talking to a steak," joked Patton Oswalt.

Original "Star Trek" actor George Takei said he was "drafting a DNC speech to (an) imaginary Romney in an empty factory."

"Saturday Night Live" cast member Seth Myers had an entirely different idea: "(Vice President Joe) Biden has to go shirtless for DNC to top it."

For Hollywood veteran Eastwood, his chance to rebound likely comes Sept. 21 in more familiar territory. That's when his next film, the baseball drama "Trouble With the Curve," opens.

___

Associated Press writers Donna Cassata, Kasie Hunt, Steve Peoples and Philip Elliott in Tampa, Fla., Leanne Italie in New York and Sam Hananel in Washington contributed to this report.

Comments
(17)
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CobbCoGuy
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September 04, 2012
If Eastwood is a senile old fool, then how is it he has yet another movie coming out this year?

At the RNC he was performing and he knew exactly what he was doing. He was everyman speaking to everyman.

Got a couple minutes? Want to smile? Go to Google images and search "empty chair day." :)

In other news the debt clock should reach $16T today.
Make my day...not
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September 02, 2012
This is why this race is still tied when Obama should be losing in a landslide...If Mitt Romney loses this election, he will have totally deserved it given his campaign's ineptitude on just about everything.
D. Harry
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September 02, 2012
"Ya gotta let him go..." Classic Eastwood.

Democrats can't stand the truth.
Laura Armstrong
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September 02, 2012
I thought it was Joe Biden who is the "drunk uncle"...at least according to the Navy SEALS who got Bin Laden. Eastwood rocked, in an 82 year old, former mayor of Carmel, sarcastic like Dirty Harry kind of way. That obviously made liberals like Foley and the Associated Press crazy.

Note to MDJ: if Foley can comment, you should allow your former more moderate columnist to comment as well.
Samuel Adams
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September 02, 2012
Is Derrick J. Lang of the AP an opinion columnist? If not, then why such a biased accounting of this story? I found Clint to be awesome, irreverent and intelligent. Remember, he was a mayor and has always been political. It's just that blatherers like Foley and Hollywood cannot stand it when someone with gravitas leaves their little plantation and tells the truth.
Lib in Cobb
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September 01, 2012
When the camera cut away from Eastwood/Chair to Anne Romney she had a look on her face as if she needed a restroom very quickly. Perfect just perfect for the

LDS Stepford Wife.
To see rather than t
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August 31, 2012
Listened to the act intermittently with the radio in the background. Did not catch my interest. After reading the reviews, I had to watch it on YouTube.

Now, I understand why Mr. Newhart is (satirically) considering legal action: Mr. Eastwood performance is a close rival to the acts that Mr. Newhart is famous for (the Air Traffic Controller at LAX) and (in my opinion) was much better than Mr. Newhart's "Sir Walter Raleigh" skit.

Thoroughly enjoyed it and suggest that all watch the performance on YouTube so as to decide for themselves.
Lib in Cobb
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August 31, 2012
Is Eastwood practicing to be institutionalized. I am thrilled he is one of the drooling Repukes. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
CobbCoGuy
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August 31, 2012
The laughing was genuine, but admittedly, I rather he left out the "he can't do that to himself" lines. That said, folks are missing the symbolism:

empty chair = empty suit = empty promises.

The Big Dawg
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August 31, 2012
What is really pathetic is that the empty chair would be a much better leader than Obama.
Kevin Foley
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August 31, 2012
The doddering Clint was pathetic, his lame interview bombed. Really sad.

I heard laughing, but it was mostly the uncomfortable kind heard when your old drunk uncle decides to get cute at Christmas and dance with the dog.

anonymous
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August 31, 2012
Hmm, I know who Clint Eastwood is. I have no idea who you are. Just food for thought.
Samuel Adams
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September 02, 2012
It's just like a Democrat screenwriter to disparage senior citizens.

Sorry Foley, not everyone can have swagga like your hero, Obama. Not only that, there is nothing wrong with downing a few at Christmas and dancing with the dog...I think our elders have earned the right, having put up with the likes of us for over 8 decades. Besides, maybe they even know a few things.
Clint is OLD
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August 31, 2012
Incredible poor speech. Anybody would have been better.
I'm sure
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August 31, 2012
While I am sure that the AP article is completely unbiased I would like to point out that the audience found the interview with "Obama" hilarious. In case anyone missed it, Eastwood was making fun of the Perfect One. Thought it was great. And, at 82, Eastwood was working WITHOUT A TELEPROMPTER!
Lib in Cobb
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August 31, 2012
Eastwood was the only person working without a teleprompter. What's your point? Could you give an hour long speech without a teleprompter or notes? Change your screen name to Forest Gump.
west cobber
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August 31, 2012
As I watched it, I felt sad.
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