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Clint Eastwood Delivers Rambling RNC Speech Featuring “Invisible Obama” in Empty Chair

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One unusual speech at the closing night of the Republican National Convention Thursday generated so much attention that it nearly threatened to overshadow Romney’s acceptance of the presidential nomination. The actor Clint Eastwood, known for his character Dirty Harry and his famous line, “Go ahead, make my day,” gave a rambling, 11-minute address that appeared to be completely unscripted. During the speech, the 82-year-old actor addressed an empty chair next to him on the stage where he pretended President Obama was sitting. [includes rush transcript]

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, We’re broadcasting from the PBS station WEDU in Tampa, Florida. This is “Breaking With Convention: War, Peace and the Presidency,” Democracy Now!'s special daily two hours of coverage from the Republican National Convention, inside and out. Next week we'll be doing the same thing in Charlotte for the Democratic convention. I’m Amy Goodman.

One unusual speech at the closing night of the Republic convention Thursday generated so much attention it nearly threatened to overshadow Romney’s acceptance of the presidential nomination. The actor Clint Eastwood, known for his character Dirty Harry and his most famous line, “Go ahead, make my day,” gave a rambling, 11-minute address that appeared to be completely unscripted. During the speech, the 82-year-old actor addressed an empty chair next to him on the stage, where he pretended President Obama was sitting.

CLINT EASTWOOD: So I’ve got—I’ve got Mr. Obama sitting here. And he’s—I just was going to ask him a couple questions.

But—you know, about—I remember three-and-a-half years ago when Mr. Obama won the election, and though I wasn’t a big supporter, I was watching that night when he was having that thing and they were talking about hope and change, and they were talking about, “yes, we can,” and it was dark and outdoors, and it was nice, and people were lighting candles. And they were saying—you know, and I just thought, “This is great.” I mean, everybody’s crying. Oprah was crying. And I was even crying. And then, finally—I haven’t cried that hard since I found out that there’s 23 million unemployed people in this country. And now, that is something to cry for, because that is a disgrace, a national disgrace. And we haven’t done enough, obviously. This administration hasn’t done enough to cure that. And whatever—whatever interest they have is not strong enough. And I think, possibly, now it may be time for somebody else to come along and solve the problem.

So—so, Mr. President, how do you—how do you handle—how do you handle promises that you made when you were running for election, and how do you handle—how do you handle it? I mean, what do you say to people? Do you—do you just—you know, I know people—people were wondering. You don’t. You don’t handle that. OK.

Well, I know even some of the people in your own party were very disappointed when you didn’t close Gitmo. And I thought—well, I think 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”? OK. Just—I thought it was just because somebody had a stupid idea of trying terrorists in downtown New York City. Maybe that was it. I’ve got to—I’ve got to hand it to you. I’ve got to give credit where credit is due. You did overrule that finally. And that’s—so now we’re moving onward.

And I know in the—I know you were against the war in Iraq, and that’s OK. But you thought the war in Afghanistan was OK. You know, I mean, you thought that was something that was worth doing. We didn’t check with the Russians to see how did there for the 10 years. But—but it—we did it, and it was—you know, it’s—it’s something to—to be thought about. And I think that—that when we get to maybe—I think you mentioned something about having a target date for bringing everybody home. And you give that target date. And I think Mr. Romney asked the only sensible question on it. He says, “Why are you giving the date out now? Why don’t you just bring them home tomorrow morning?” And I thought—I thought, yeah, there’s—I’m not going to shut up; it’s my turn.

So, anyway, we got—we’re going to have—we’re going to have to have a little chat about that. And then, I just wondered, these—all these promises. And then I wondered about, you know, when—when the—what? What do you want me to tell Romney? I can’t tell him to do that. He can’t do that to himself. You’re crazy. You’re absolutely crazy. You’re getting as bad as Biden. Of course, we all know Biden is the—Biden is the intellect of the Democratic Party, so, you know. Just a kind of a—kind of a grin with a body behind it, you know, and just kind of a thing.

But I just—I just think that there’s so much to be done, and I think that Mr.—Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan are two guys that can come along. See, I never thought that it was a good idea for attorneys to be president, anyway, because it—yeah, I think—I think attorneys are so busy—you know, they’re always taught to argue everything and always weigh everything and weigh both sides. And they’re always—you know, they’re always devil’s-advocating this and bifurcating this and bifurcating that. You know, all that stuff. But I think it’s maybe time—what do you think—for maybe a businessman. How about that?

AMY GOODMAN: That was actor Clint Eastwood, known for directing the Oscar-winning films Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, delivering an apparently unscripted address at the Republican National Convention’s closing night. He spoke less than an hour before Mitt Romney took to the stage to accept the nomination.

The speech received an immediate response on social media, with tens of thousands taking to Twitter following the newly created handle “Invisible Obama.” Some posted pictures of themselves pointing at empty chairs, with the hashtag “#eastwooding.” President Obama’s official Twitter account responded to the speech by tweeting, “This seat’s taken,” with a photo of Obama in his own chair.

Critics called Clint Eastwood’s address “sad” and “embarrassing,” while Republican supporters rushed to defend it. The Romney campaign said the actor’s apparent ad-libbing was, quote, “a break from all the political speeches and the crowd enjoyed it.” A Romney spokesperson told CNN’s Piers Morgan, quote, “You can’t look at him at through the same political lens that you would other politicians. He’s Clint Eastwood.”

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