Clint Eastwood Trashed by On-Air Pundits; Takes Focus Off Romney (Video)
"That was the weirdest thing I've ever seen at a political convention in my entire life," MSNBC's Rachel Maddow says.
Clint Eastwood might have made the GOP delegates' day by appearing at the Republican National Convention on Thursday night, but his surprise address left the pundits baffled.
Appearing during the last hour of the RNC in Tampa, Fla., Eastwood was the party's much buzzed-about "mystery guest." In his address, he took shots at Vice President Joe Biden and praised GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney but spent much of his speech in a one-sided conversation with what was supposed to be an invisible President Obama, represented by an empty chair behind the podium.
A sample "exchange": "So, Mr. President, how do you handle promises that you have made when you were running for election, and how do you handle them? I mean, what do you say to people? Do you just -- you know -- I know -- people were wondering -- you don't -- handle that OK. Well, I know even people in your own party were very disappointed when you didn't close Gitmo. And I thought, well closing Gitmo -- why close that, we spent so much money on it. But, I thought maybe as an excuse -- what do you mean shut up?"
Shortly after Eastwood finished his speech, the Romney campaign praised the actor-director in a statement.
"Judging an American icon like Clint Eastwood through a typical political lens doesn't work," the statement said. "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."
Fellow Republican Jon Voight also lauded Eastwood's address, calling it "tremendous" in an interview on CNN. Additionally, the actor praised Eastwood's going over the allotted time limit: "Bravo, man, that's the greatest."
And Penn Jillette, also on CNN, said he thought that putting Eastwood on stage was a good move by the GOP.
"If you said to me, Clint Eastwood wants to be on stage -- let him do what he wants," he said. "This doesn't reflect on Mitt Romney. It's just beautiful, wild, goofy and crazy."
But the pundits weren't buying it, criticizing everything from his remarks to his hair. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, for one, called the speech "bizarre."
"I don't know what was going on there," she said on-air. "Clint Eastwood is 82 years old and I think that -- I don't know if that's what was going on there." (Watch video of her reaction below.)
She added: "That was the weirdest thing I've ever seen at a political convention in my entire life, and it will be the weirdest thing I've ever seen if I live to be 100."
Fellow MSNBC host Ed Schultz echoed her thoughts.
“I thought Clint Eastwood was bizarre,” he said, via Politico. “It was demeaning to the presidency."
Their network colleague Chris Matthews added that Eastwood looked like he had "hair by Christopher Lloyd."
CNN's Piers Morgan also chimed in, calling the speech "crazy." Of Eastwood, Morgan said he had been getting text messages saying, "He's gone crackers."
He later added: "I love Clint Eastwood, but I just felt a little bit embarrassed for him. ... I think he's been a disaster."
Tom Brokaw, meanwhile, hit Twitter to comment, saying the Hollywood legend could have been less loquacious.
"As a surprise guest on the Tampa stage he had too many words (I say as a friend)," Brokaw wrote.
Meanwhile, Fox News' Chris Wallace declined to even comment on the speech.
“Let me say that I get paid to review politicians,” he said. “There’s no way I’m going to touch Clint Eastwood’s performance tonight.”