When the news broke that Republicans would use Clint Eastwood as a “mystery speaker” at the Republican National Convention, most observers shrugged. It wasn’t viewed as a terrible move, but neither was it seen as a game-changer. No doubt, the actor-director would say some bland things supporting Romney, and maybe plug his new movie. The morning shows would use the video of Eastwood speaking as a background visual, and soon enough, people would forget it.
After Eastwood’s speech, nobody was shrugging.
Eastwood gave a rambling, off-color and at times angry address, at one point arguing with an imaginary President Barack Obama in an empty chair placed on stage. Eastwood went over time, off-script, and overshadowed Mitt Romney on a night that was supposed to re-introduce the GOP presidential candidate to the nation.
“So I — so I’ve got Mr. Obama sitting here. And he’s — I was going to ask him a couple of questions,” Eastwood said. “remember three and a half years ago, when Mr. Obama won the election. And though I was not a big supporter, I was watching that night when he was having that thing and they were talking about hope and change and they were talking about, yes we can, and it was dark outdoors, and it was nice, and people were lighting candles. They were saying, I just thought, this was great. Everybody is crying, Oprah was crying.”
Eastwood continued, “I was even crying. And then finally — and I haven’t cried that hard since I found out that there is 23 million
unemployed people in this country.”
Eastwood’s unemployment figure was over by 10 million, but this was not a speech that called for fact-checking; this was a speech that called for cringing, which even Republican Gov. Scott Walker admitted to doing.
Eastwood ad-libbed most of his address. Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told CNN that Eastwood had been given a script, but decided not to follow it.
Instead, Eastwood began arguing with an invisible, inaudible Obama.
“So, Mr. President, how do you handle promises that you have made when you were running for election, and how do you handle them?” Eastwood asked. “I mean, what do you say to people? Do you just — you know – I know — people were wondering — you don’t — handle that OK. Well, I know even people in your own party were very disappointed when you didn’t close Gitmo. And I thought, well closing Gitmo — why close that, we spent so much money on it. But, I thought maybe as an excuse – what do you mean shut up?”
Eastwood did not take invisible Obama’s advice, however, and continued rambling, at one point saying, “I wondered about when the — what do you want me to tell Romney? I can’t tell him to do that. I can’t tell him to do that to himself. You’re crazy, you’re absolutely crazy. You’re getting as bad as Biden.”
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