VIDEO: Did Clint Eastwood lose the plot at Romney’s convention?

Actor Clint Eastwood addresses an empty chair and questions it as if it were President Barack Obama.

Republicans may have made Mitt Romney’s day with the presidential nomination he long sought, but it was Dirty Harry himself who nearly hijacked the show with a rambling diatribe against President Barack Obama – addressed to an empty chair.

Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood brought his star power and trademark gravelly voice to the stage of the convention hall in Tampa on Thursday, jetting in as a surprise last-minute speaker to warm up the crowd for Romney’s acceptance speech.

Eastwood’s cameo appearance, including an ad-libbed monologue with an imaginary Obama in an empty chair, seemed to thrill many in the audience, but was widely panned by observers across the political spectrum.

“Clint, my hero, is coming across as sad and pathetic,” legendary Chicago film critic Roger Ebert said in a message on Twitter.com. “He didn’t need to do this to himself.”

Former Romney adviser Mike Murphy tweeted: “Note to file: Actors need a script.”

The 82-year-old Academy Award-winning director and actor, who endorsed Romney earlier this month, strode to the podium serenaded by the theme music from his classic western, “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.”

Eastwood delivered an off-the-cuff, deadpan discourse, at times biting in its criticism of Obama, at times supportive of Romney’s candidacy, whom he lauded for a “sterling” business record.

But more often he was nearly incoherent, meandering from one topic to another, including the state of the economy, the war in Afghanistan and the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

At one point, Eastwood said he “never thought it was a good idea for attorneys to be president,” apparently unaware that Romney holds a law degree.

In one of his lucid moments, Eastwood – squinting, with his gaunt face framed by thinning, disheveled gray hair – told the cheering crowd: “When somebody does not do the job, we’ve gotta let them go.”

Occasionally, he paused to berate the chair, telling an absent Obama to “shut up.”

The phrase “invisible Obama” went viral on the Internet, and pictures of people with empty chairs filled Twitter. Obama’s own Twitter account posted a picture of Obama sitting in a chair marked “The President” with the comment, “This seat’s taken.”

DID CLINT BOMB?

Many felt that Eastwood bombed on the political stage.

“What the heck is THIS?” Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod tweeted.

“A great night for Mitt Romney just got sidetracked by Clint Eastwood. Wow. That was bad,” tweeted Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman who currently does commentary for MSNBC.

Some in the audience, however, were left starry-eyed.

“He’s a fabulous actor,” said Rita Wray, a member of the Mississippi delegation, who praised Eastwood’s “dry wit.” She said she was a fan of his movies, though she couldn’t name a single one.

It took some coaxing from the crowd, but Eastwood finally led the delegates in declaring “Make my day” – the signature line of the gun-slinging detective he played in the “Dirty Harry” movies.

Eastwood was reluctantly drawn into the 2012 campaign earlier this year when an ad by Chrysler, titled “Halftime in America” and narrated by Eastwood, ran during halftime of the Super Bowl.

Many people saw it as Eastwood promoting, and possibly endorsing, the Democratic president because Chrysler had received a government bailout.

Eastwood, who backed Republican John McCain’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential bid, flatly denied that, saying at the time that he was “certainly not politically affiliated with Mr. Obama.”

Eastwood, a long-time Republican, has himself dabbled in politics. He served as mayor of his small upscale hometown, Carmel, California, in the 1980s.

Convention organizers preparing for the final night of the carefully scripted event had fueled buzz about a celebrity mystery speaker by leaving a spot open on the official program.

Just hours before the session began, Romney’s campaign confirmed that Eastwood was coming to town. His speech came just before Florida Senator Marco Rubio introduced Romney for the biggest test of his White House bid.

Republicans have long criticized Obama for his cozy relations with a bevy of liberal Hollywood stars like George Clooney, but convention planners apparently wanted to show that they too could bring a touch of show-business glamour to bear.

Despite Eastwood’s Republican affiliation, many of his views differ with the party. Though he has described himself as a fiscal conservative, he backs gay marriage, favors gun control and abortion rights and supports environmental causes.

That may reinforce some conservatives’ suspicions that Romney is himself insufficiently conservative.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Woman dies when run over by bus at…

A woman at the Burning Man arts and culture festival in the Nevada desert died on Thursday when she was run over by a bus carrying participants.

National

Texas parents sue day care center for duct…

By Marice RichterDALLAS (Reuters) - A Texas couple has filed a lawsuit against the owners of a Fort Worth-area day care center seeking $1 million…

National

Santa Fe city council votes to decriminalize marijuana

By Joseph KolbALBUQUERQUE N.M. (Reuters) - Santa Fe on Wednesday became the latest U.S. city to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, with lawmakers in the…

International

Egypt queries Mursi over documents "leaked" to Al…

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt is investigating jailed ex-president Mohamed Mursi in connection with documents that judicial investigators say were leaked to the Qatar-based Al Jazeera…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…