August 31, 2012, 4:51 PM
Eastwood’s Chair Surprises Romney Camp
By Sara Murray
KENNER, La.–Mitt Romney’s campaign staff did not realize that Clint Eastwood would be using that chair — at least not for something other than sitting. They did not ask Mr. Eastwood to rehearse his speech for them – although they did go over talking points. And, yes, they took note that the speech by the acclaimed actor and director would run for nearly 15 minutes, not the allotted five.
In the grand scheme of the 2012 presidential election, Mr. Eastwood’s offbeat primetime performance at the Republican National Convention will be a footnote. But as far as convention speeches go, it was something of a doozy.
Thursday night, the 82-year-old Mr. Eastwood treated convention delegates, and millions watching at home, to a rambling and seemingly (though not actually) profanity-laced discussion with an empty chair meant to signify President Barack Obama.
Mr. Eastwood had spoken at fundraisers before, hitting all of the Romney campaign’s high notes: Railing against high unemployment, for instance, and saying it was time for a change in leadership.
But when Mr. Eastwood should speak before Mr. Romney accepted the Republican presidential nomination Thursday, the Romney campaign was caught off guard.
“It was an improv,” said Stuart Stevens, the campaign’s top strategist.Still, Mr. Stevens said the candidate was amused.
“I was backstage with him and he was laughing,” Mr. Stevens said.