(TAMPA, Fla.) — Clint Eastwood made a surprise appearance at the Republican National Convention Thursday night, calling unemployment in America “a national disgrace” before interviewing an empty chair he addressed as “President Obama.”
“I got Mr. Obama sitting here and I was gonna ask him a couple questions,” Eastwood drawled, turning his head toward the chair.
“Mr. President, how do you handle promises you made when you were running for election? What do you say to people?” Eastwood asked.
But he cut off the interviewee: “I’m not gonna shut up. It’s my turn,” Eastwood said.
And then, again to the chair: “What do you want me to tell Mr. Romney?”
“I can’t tell him to do that,” Eastwood responded. “He can’t do that to himself. You’re absolutely crazy. You’re getting as bad as Biden!”
The partisan crowd erupted at the apparently off-color remark.
The president, though, would get the last word. At about 12:30 a.m. Friday, his office replied simply, “This seat’s taken.“
Eastwood, who endorsed Romney on Aug. 3 at a fundraiser in Sun Valley, Idaho, spoke about the Republican presidential nominee, too, saying, “It was time for someone else to come along and solve the problem.”
Of Obama, he said Thursday night, “When somebody doesn’t do the job, you’ve got to let them go,” before making a throat-slashing gesture.
This wasn’t the four-time Academy Award winner’s first dip in political waters. He was elected mayor of Carmel, Calif., in 1986, and rumors still exist that President George H. W. Bush, with his 1988 campaign faltering, considered asking Eastwood to be his running mate.
On this night, Eastwood’s arrival dispelled another rumor, that the RNC had plans to debut a hologram revival of Ronald Reagan on the convention stage.
Instead, it was the actor and his seemingly improvised one-man show that followed a touching video about the Romney family and delayed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s scheduled address by at least 10 minutes.
Before leaving the stage, Eastwood turned his attention to the crowd and brought them in on the act.
“Go ahead,” he growled and, not missing a beat, they shouted back: “Make my day!”
Watch Clint Eastwood’s full speech:
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Dakin Andone, CNN
Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com
Azadeh Ansari and Angela Dewan, CNN
Dylan Byers, CNN