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Clint Eastwood Makes His Day ... at the GOP Convention

AP with CNBC.com
Thursday, 30 Aug 2012 | 11:40 PM ET

Clint Eastwood, the Hollywood filmmaker who knows all about sticking to the script, turned in a bizarre, unscripted endorsement of Republican Mitt Romney on Thursday night.

Actor Clint Eastwood speaks during the final day of the Republican National Convention.
Getty Images
Actor Clint Eastwood speaks during the final day of the Republican National Convention.

Standing on the convention stage with an empty chair, the 82-year-old Eastwood carried on a sometimes rambling conversation with an imaginary President Barack Obama.

The actor and director talked about Oprah Winfrey, Obama's unfulfilled promise to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and lawyers.

At one point, Eastwood talked about letting Obama go and making a change.

"When somebody doesn't do the job, you gotta let `em go," Eastwood said. The tough-guy actor of "Dirty Harry" fame drew a finger across his throat.

The crowd cheered Eastwood's entrance and shouted his famed catchphrase, "Go ahead, make my day." But backstage, stern-faced Romney aides winced at times as Eastwood's remarks stretched on.

On a night where virtually every moment was scripted, the Oscar-winning director of "Unforgiven" and "Million Dollar Baby" was among the only speakers not reading from a teleprompter as he spoke.

"OK, make my day," Eastwood concluded, citing the iconic line from his movie character Dirty Harry Callahan.

Twitter was instantly ablaze with comments mocking Eastwood's rambling speech.

Minutes after Eastwood began his speech, someone created the @InvisibleObama account on Twitter. It quickly gathered 17,000 plus followers.

"Clint Eastwood is now backstage arguing with a vending machine," joked Canadian comedian Daryn Jones.

Clint Eastwood: Unemployment a 'National Disgrace'
CNBC's John Harwood and Larry Kudlow discuss preparations for Mitt Romney's big speech to the Republican National Convention. Kudlow says he wants clarity from the Romney plan. And legendary actor Clint Eastwood takes the podium to say there are more conservative people in Hollywood than you think. He adds that it may be time for someone else to come along and solve the problem.

Film critic Roger Ebert didn't give the speech two thumbs up.

"Clint, my hero, is coming across as sad and pathetic," tweeted Ebert. "He didn't need to do this to himself. It's unworthy of him."

Comedian Roseanne Barr put it simply: "clint eastwood is CRAY."

Not everyone agreed.

"Clint Eastwood made my day," tweeted Southern rocker Charlie Daniels. The Hollywood trades gave it positive marks, perhaps a reflection of the movie world's appreciation for genuineness.

In a statement, the Romney campaign said: "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."

Eastwood endorsed Romney earlier this month at a campaign event in Sun Valley, Idaho.

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