August 31st, 2012
04:10 PM ET
10 years ago

Romney adviser: Eastwood a 'great messenger'

New Orleans, Louisiana (CNN) – When iconic actor and Romney supporter Clint Eastwood asked for a chair to be brought onto the convention stage Thursday night, staffers did not realize it would become an integral part of his speech, according to a senior aide.

Eastwood's performance on-stage - largely a conversation between the actor and the empty chair he used to symbolize President Obama - raised eyebrows and quickly went viral, as thousands of viewers tweeted bemused reactions to the unconventional remarks.

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Romney staffers were not privy to an advance copy of Eastwood's speech – in fact, he ad-libbed his endorsement of the Republican nominee, the adviser said.

Eastwood previously endorsed Romney at a campaign fund-raiser, but news cameras were not allowed to film the revered tough-guy movie star's appearance with Romney.

So the campaign made Eastwood a surprise guest Thursday night, on the final evening of a minutely-orchestrated convention carefully designed to introduce Romney to millions of voters.

However, Eastwood's remarks do not appear to have been subject to that level of scrutiny.

Senior strategist Stuart Stevens called Eastwood's use of the chair "improv" but shrugged off concerns the unexpected speech could distract from Romney's message.

"The crowd loved it," Stevens said, adding that Romney had been backstage laughing along with the audience. "He thought it was funny."

"For him to go out there and to say that there's a need to change presidents and that he supports Mitt Romney, and talk about 23 million people out of work as he did, and talk about when someone doesn't do their job you need to change, that's a powerful message," Stevens said. "He's a great messenger. The guy is an American treasure."

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney
soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. Jim

    Bless his heart, poor man....

    August 31, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  2. vic , nashville ,tn

    Yesterday was JOKE

    August 31, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  3. truth hurts

    So disrespecting the President on one of the biggest stages is now acceptable?

    Clint did NOTHING to help Romney and the fact that Romney's team thinks he did a great job is truly disturbing.
    I guess that is what the RNC has come down too. Clint and Ted Nudgent.

    How embarrassing for the Republican Party.
    So much for Mitt's speech of his lifetime. Overshadowed by Dirty Harry and his magical chair.

    Not to mention, the chair showed more life than Romney and his futile attempt to come off as human.

    August 31, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  4. the Situation

    Eastwood is a joke and this advisor states he was great. If Romney and these clowns get into office, America is in great danger.

    August 31, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  5. Carol Lane

    Great American.. great American ICON.. No matter what he said ..if you are on the side of the "good guys" in this country you respect him.. He sure "Made MY Day"

    August 31, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  6. jim

    Words cannot express how unimpressed I am with Romney or Clint.

    August 31, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  7. PJ

    The talk was silly, confusing, awkward, and unneccessary. However, I walked away still liking Eastwood, and
    if it had been Trump, most likely we would be buying new TVs today. Small favors.

    August 31, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  8. Romney is not My Hero

    A great Messenger? He spoke to an empty chair!!! He needs the guys in the white coats to pick him up for observation. Since horse-Mitt likes firing people, he should definitely fire his adviser. Disconcerting!

    OBAMA 2012!

    August 31, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  9. Anderson in NH

    what an incredible embarrassment. Did he think he was Jimmy Stewart talking to Harvey (invisible rabbit) ?

    August 31, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  10. Martha in CF

    It was a sorry state of affairs at the RNC convention. Is that all they can do is name call and make fun? I was hoping for some agendas as to what they would do for America. There was NOTHING offered. I'm sticking with Obama and the Democrats. Hopefully we get 4 more years and hopefully the redumblicans that are in office whose terms are up will get voted out. Enough is enough!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 31, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  11. Truth

    Carol Lane: Explain to me who the "good guys" are? If its what I think it and your klan never stopped being the bad guys

    August 31, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  12. possum

    Initially I felt sorry for Mr Eastwood – such a long way and so many years from Rowdy, Blondie and Callahan. I thought (and still do think) that he may have some CNS disorder. Either the RNC and convention planners took terrible advantage of one our/their aging icons or Mr Eastwood did a very cruel parody of an aging star. President Obama is a big boy and can take care of himself. I expect when Mr Eastwood views a tape of his performance last night – he will cry yet a third time.

    August 31, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  13. MNAnonymous!

    One word: ridiculous!

    August 31, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Shame on the RNC (and Romney) for trying to direct attention away from their own cupablity by putting Eastwood out there to make a fool of himself to begin with.

    August 31, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  15. California Gary

    The fact that everyone today is taking about Clint rather than Mitt is a good indication that Mitt really wasn't all that impressive. And Clint is a little confused about some of Romney's positions apparently. Is Mitt really saying we should bring all the troops home tomorrow? I must have missed that one.......

    August 31, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  16. sandra

    Never in the history of this country has a President been disrespected like President Obama. It's ugly . . . the epitome of the words "Ugly American." No matter whether you agree with him or not, he is the President of our country and that alone makes him deserving of our support and respect. It's such a joke to hear Romney talk of becoming united as a people and then listening to Mr. Eastwood disrespect our President. We used to be proud of our country, our leaders, our people, and our way of life. Clint should stick to making movies. His little act was demeaning, humiliating, and mean-spirited. As an American, I don't appreciate people who burn the flag, and I don't appreciate people who disrespect my President regardless of which party he belongs. to.

    August 31, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  17. Al-NY,NY

    Well i now have that same feeling about old Clint when he chose a dissterous role in "The brudges of madison county" It's that feeling of disgust all over again

    August 31, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  18. Ken

    "Not to mention, the chair showed more life than Romney and his futile attempt to come off as human"

    Brightest comment on this blog!

    August 31, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  19. myviewis


    Words cannot express how unimpressed I am with Romney or Clint.

    And I am just as unimpressed with Obama not going to Louisiana and Mississippi to be with the victims of Hurricane Isaac. The man is a joke of a president.

    August 31, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  20. alittlesense

    Have we become so used to everything being scripted and staged that when someone speaks off the cuff we find it so strange? Also, the empty chair routine has been used before, even in politics!

    One other thing; the President is not a King. Americans have been criticizing our presidents since the beginning of the republic, often is much more vicious ways than anything Eastwood said last night. The office of the President is due respect. The person occupying the office is now, and has always been, fair game.

    August 31, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  21. Ancient Texan

    But...the Libs love Alex Baldwin, Sean Penn, and the radical Left side of the entertainment world when they bash Bush and the GOP.

    August 31, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  22. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Ted 'Crappy Pants' Nugent, Taliban Hank Williams Jr, Sununu, and now Clint Eastwood, have lost their battle with reality.

    August 31, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  23. Newme1

    A total disgrace. Is this what our country has come to? I feel really bad for Clint. He allowed the Romney campaign to use him in the most hateful way. The entire GOP is a failure.

    August 31, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  24. Audrey

    Wow, Clint is practically unintelligible. He must never have been allowed to ad-lib in his movies.

    August 31, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  25. VCMD

    That's not the President on the chair! It's just a dummy! Anyway DNC did not get the message! Just sitting in that chair does not accomplish anything. You have to lead and work with all parties to get things done for the benefit of the country! You can't just go and bad mouth and lecture the oppositions and head of the congress, and then cry crocodile tears when they don't help you.

    August 31, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
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