Final Republican convention discussion thread: Clint Eastwood and Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney formally accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for president last night. A surprise appearance by actor and director Clint Eastwood overshadowed Romney’s speech.

So far, television ratings for this RNC convention have been much lower than in 2008, when Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was a new and exciting face for the party. To generate some buzz about Thursday night’s prime-time lineup, Republican officials were touting an unnamed special guest. That turned out to be Eastwood, who delivered this strange dialogue with an empty chair (representing President Barack Obama).

Mother Jones published the transcript of Eastwood’s speech here.

I bet Romney’s handlers regretted the decision to send Eastwood on stage without an approved script. Last night the Romney campaign released this written statement:

“Judging an American icon like Clint Eastwood through a typical political lens doesn’t work. 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.”

Amazingly, Romney’s people ran their biographical video on the GOP nominee before major network coverage began last night. How could they relegate their best effort to promote Romney to cable networks and let the larger broadcast audience watch Eastwood? Lots of people were scratching their heads.

I only saw parts of Romney’s acceptance speech, but from what I read he said very little about his accomplishments as governor of Massachusetts. Typically, when a governor runs for president, the candidate’s record as leader of a state forms the centerpiece of the campaign.

Any comments about the Republican convention are welcome in this thread.  

UPDATE: O.Kay Henderson reported,

Convention delegate Roger Leahy of Fairfield calls the Romney/Ryan ticket the “lesser of two evils” and he may vote for a third party candidate.

“I’m going to still be thinking about it ’til November whatever it is, 6th or 2nd or something,” Leahy said this morning, with a laugh. “I don’t know. I mean, I’ve never actually voted for the lesser of the evils. I’ve always voted for who I thought was the best candidate on the ballot and I’m still looking at that and I think there may be other candidates on the ballot.” […]

Delegate and Ron Paul supporter Jonas Cutler of West Des Moines said today he’ll “work for the Republican Party of Iowa” – plus, his daughter is in a Romney campaign commercial – but Cutler will not say whether he’ll vote for Mitt Romney.

“We are the future of the Republican Party here,” Cutler replied the fifth time he was asked if he’d vote for Romney.[…]

State Senator Brad Zaun of Urbandale – an alternate delegate to the convention who points out his candidate, Michele Bachmann, lost, too – said he’s had “disturbing” conversations with many of the Ron Paul supporters from Iowa.

“I’ve had several of them say, ‘I don’t even know if I’m going to vote,’ and that really upsets me,” Zaun said. “Their candidate lost and they’re supposed to be representatives of the Republican Party and they need to get behind Mitt Romney.”

SECOND UPDATE: Henderson also reported Iowa GOP Chair A.J. Spiker’s commnts regarding new rules adopted by the RNC. According to Spiker, tough penalties for states that try to schedule their primaries or caucuses very early are the “biggest protection Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status has ever had.”

Under the new GOP rules, a state that schedules its presidential primary or caucus before the end of February would only be able to send 12 delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention.

“So (a state) like California that went into February would have 12 delegates instead of over 150, so it’s a big penalty,” Spiker says. “That’s one of the biggest, positive things that come out of the convention that impacts the first-in-the-nation status of the Republican Party of Iowa.”

States that have moved ahead on the presidential election calendar in the past, though, have escaped serious party penalties. By the time a national convention comes around, nervous presidential nominees do not wish to offend voters in states like Florida who are crucial for victory in November. GOP Convention delegates ratified the new get-tough-on-leapfroggers rule on Tuesday. Spiker says a bid to give the party’s next presumed presidential nominee the ability to dictate who could be a delegate at the 2016 convention has been thwarted.

“I believe that speaks volumes of a lot of us put in to make sure that it was the people rather than the politicians picking the delegates,” Spiker says. “It was a tremendous success of a broad coalition: Tea Party people, Evangelicals,  moderates, Ron Paul people – it was just a broad coalition to make sure that the grassroots continued to be the leader of that process.”

  • review

    Actually, I thought Eastwood’s skit was pretty funny. I’m guessing the Republicans are happy w/ it. Also, it is foolish for Dems to make jokes about seniors.

    After last night, I decided that any white “native born” American speaking Spanish must be a Republican. It got old kind of quickly — I mean the panegyric to immigrants/grandpa/grandma. Hello, you’re asking them to “prove” their citizenship retroactively now.

    That said, I think the GOP did a good job highlighting a broad range of GOP politicians, from a “diversity” point-of-view — certainly much better than four years ago. I like Gov Susana Martinez, and if I had to pick the most likely first woman president, I’d have to go with her.

    Smarmiest GOP pol award goes to Paul Ryan, no contest. The convention cemented my opinion that this is the happy warrior ticket.

    On the whole, the convention was short on substance. They did wring every drop out of the American Dream/opportunity theme. They do this every four years, and it endures.

    Romney is an odd duck. I watched his speech on youtube this morning and didn’t have a positive or negative reaction. Probably his best line was contrasting earth/oceans to “help you and your family.” No specifics, though.

    I only watched the speeches I was interested in, after the fact. I probably caught the “best of” since I ignored the really lame stuff like Newt, T-Paw, Huck and those other retreads.

  • Eastwood

    I heard or read somewhere that Clint actually ad libbed most of his bit, and the chair was a last minute addition. The worst thing that can happen if you want to try something like this is that it turns out not to be funny. By most accounts it was puzzling at best, a train wreck at worst. I thought it was insulting to the Presidency.  

    But more than that, the Republicans had this “golden hour” to reintroduce Mitt to the American people, and blew it.  As noted earlier, the well-done film on Mitt was relegated to cable, apparently in favor of Clint’s unscripted ramble.  Every single word and move during that hour should’ve been tightly controlled by the GOP. Regardless of their public comments, the Romney camp cannot be happy about how it played out. They didn’t look too happy in the audience.  The next day, Eastwood’s presentation sucked precious airtime and ink from Mitt’s workmanlike address. “Disaster” may be an overstatement, but it sure is surprising that the GOP brain trust would let something like this get away from them.

    • doubt it

      ad libbed most of his bit because

      “stellar businessman” came straight from the Clinton quote. “A grin w/ a body behind it” is payback for “noun, verb + 9/11.” A whole lot of subtle stuff in there. And people get to hear it over and over again given the fuss everybody’s making. Any pretense by Romney’s team of unhappiness is just to get a degree of separation from some of the dicier stuff like “no I can’t do that to myself,” but was the goal to tag BO as petulant? I think so.

      We weren’t the target audience. What caught my attention was how much they packed into the pretense of ad-libbing, rambling.

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