TAMPA — Mitt Romney took a chance on Clint Eastwood, but the only person whose day was made was Barack Obama’s.
As the national broadcast networks broke into local coverage to cover Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech, millions of Americans around the world were treated to a suggestive, rambling 10-minute monologue by the aging American icon that played squarely to the conservative base. At a moment when Romney was trying to transcend the party he has now become the standard-bearer of and rise to look presidential, Eastwood’s appearance appears to be folly.
A powerful, 10-minute biographical video, chronicling Romney’s life from birth to today never made national air, and was confined to cable news.
“Joe Biden is the intellect of the Democratic Party,” Eastwood quipped in a line targeted at Fox News viewers across the country.
“I’m not going to shut up, it’s my turn,” Eastwood added, as part of his fictional conversation with Obama in an empty chair.
Eastwood’s routine was one part failed comedy, one part red meat, and through-and-through a missed opportunity to reach out to swing voters.
Marco Rubio’s speech following, and the video preceding Eastwood, represent the convention Mitt Romney has tried to run — respectful and mindful of what average Americans want to hear. Eastwood’s speech was just the opposite.
UPDATE: Romney official’s statement on Eastwood:
Judging an American icon like Clint Eastwood through a typical political lens doesn’t work. His ad libbing was a break from all the political speeches, and the crowd enjoyed it. He rightly pointed out that 23 million Americans out of work or underemployed is a national disgrace and it’s time for a change.