Clint Eastwood Inclusion Prompts Mixed Reaction at Republican Convention
TAMPA, Fla. -- With Clint Eastwood reportedly set to inject a major shot of Hollywood star power into the Republican National Convention on Thursday, delegates have begun weighing in on whether showcasing an actor among the party's top politicians is a good idea.
It was tough to find a delegate who was overly impressed at the prospect of a celebrity endorsement -- even a celebrity who was once the mayor of Carmel, Calif., and has campaigned for Republicans in the past -- though delegates and other attendees interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter politely expressed their love for Eastwood’s film work and their appreciation for his support for the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan ticket.
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THR asked 30 random convention attendees whether they cared about a celebrity endorsement, and only five said it was meaningful.
“It’s best if Hollywood stars stay out of it," said Jim Calderwood of the Maryland delegation, “because they become associated with a candidate. Then, when the star has a personal issue, it rubs off. If I’m a candidate and my opponent is endorsed by a celebrity, I’m gonna check out their past for drugs, wife-beating and porn movies.”
Said Illinois delegate Sharee Langenstein: “A celebrity would never change my mind. We have a celebrity president now, and I’m not impressed.”
CNN reported Thursday that Eastwood is expected to walk the convention floor and participate in the evening program, though his exact involvement was unknown. Eastwood appeared at an Idaho fundraiser for Romney in early August and told the crowd he supported the candidate "because I think the country needs a boost somewhere." Rumors spread earlier this week that Eastwood is the "surprise guest" the GOP convention organizers had listed on the program for Thursday night. In recent years, Democrats have involved celebrities in their campaign events much more often than Republicans.
“It’s only interesting for the novelty aspect, because it’s so rare for a celebrity to endorse a Republican,” added Loren Heal, also an Illinois delegate.
Still, while celebrity endorsements don’t seem to mean much in the way of electing a candidate, according to these Republicans, push come to shove, they acknowledge that Eastwood is a good man to have on your side.
“I’m a huge Clint Eastwood fan,” said former New York Rep. Rick Lazio, in town as a delegate. “Eastwood is generally perceived by the public as someone who does not suffer fools and doesn’t take any B.S. If he signs up, it means something.”
Said party member Phillip Wyllie, a U.S. Army Special Forces veteran. “Clint has a Ranger Regimental Coin, and if he isn’t carrying it on him, he’s buying the drinks. We love Clint Eastwood in the military. A man’s got to know his limitations!”