Photo Credit: The Washington Post
Yes, it was Mitt Romney’s big night on stage at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, but unfortunately for Romney, more people may remember surprise guest Clint Eastwood’s awkward speech-slash-performance than for the GOP hopeful’s uncommonly personal delivery.
The Twittersphere immediately exploded into virtual laughter during and after Eastwood’s appearance. Eastwood’s time on stage talking to an empty chair meant to represent President Barack Obama spawned an entire meme on its own, with the Twitter handle @InvisibleObama appearing -- and gathering 20,000 followers in just one hour, according to Mashable. Tweets from the handle included, “Someone should tell Marco Rubio he's standing on my foot right now,” and “When Mitt Romney says ‘Mr. Chairman’, do you think he's referring to me?”
The Hollywood community was also quick to respond, effectively live blogging the speech as it was underway.
Patton Oswalt wrote, “I love you, Clint. I always will. But you changed the theme of the RNC from ‘WE BUILT THIS’ to ‘I CAN'T WATCH THIS’.”
Former Scrubs star Zach Braff took a stab the spectacle too, tweeting, “Still can't tell if Clint was hallucinating or President is really invisible now.”
George Takai, who is known lately for his large, dedicated social media fan base, wrote, “Clint Eastwood's RNC speech was to imaginary Obama in an empty chair. I'm drafting a DNC speech to imaginary Romney in an empty factory.” Ouch!
And Roseanne Barr, a comedienne not known for her restraint, had only a few succinct words on the matter: “clint eastwood is CRAY.”
(The Hollywood Reporter has a roundup of these and more reactions from celebs and politicos.)
Even the Obama camp got in on the joke, tweeting a photo of the president from behind, seated in the imposing studded leather chair of the Commander-in-Chief, with the words, “This seat’s taken.”
While the reactions were largely negative -- or, more accurately, mystified -- there was some positive feedback too. Blake Shelton simply wrote, “I. Love. Clint Eastwood.”
Whether or not the crowd in Tampa and across the country enjoyed it, per se, is up for debate. But what cannot be refuted is that everyone is talking about it. Indeed, CNN ran with the headline, “Eastwood, the Empty Chair, and the Speech Everyone’s Talking About.”
A statement released later from the Romney camp suggested -- optimistically -- that the Eastwood act was a success. "Judging an American icon like Clint Eastwood through a typical political lens doesn't work,” the statement read. “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."
Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based writer and iVillage’s Chief Election News Blogger. Follow her on Twitter: @alicedubin.