Did Clint Eastwood lose the plot at Romney's convention?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 12:51am EDT
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By Matt Spetalnick and Claudia Parsons

TAMPA, Florida (Reuters) - 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.   Continued...

Actor Clint Eastwood addresses an empty chair and questions it as if it is U.S. President Obama, as he endorses Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney during the final session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, August 30, 2012. REUTERS/Eric Thayer