ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The reaction to Clint Eastwood's "invisible Obama" routine at the Republican National Convention last night came down hard, setting Twitter on fire and giving political pundits plenty to talk about.
"This seat's taken," President Obama's re-election team posted on Twitter, along with a photo of Obama sitting in his chair.
Ann Romney said on CBS today that Eastwood "did a unique thing," adding that she and her husband "appreciated his support."
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In an unusual speech for what is typically a highly scripted affair, Eastwood talked to an empty chair, which he addressed as if President Obama was sitting there. At one point Eastwood suggested the imaginary president had told him to say derogatory things. "What do you want me to tell Romney? I can't tell him to do that. I can't tell him to do that to himself," he said.
He criticized Vice President Biden as "kind of a grin with a body behind it" and sarcastically described him as "the intellect of the Democratic Party."
It's clear that some people didn't know what to make of Eastwood's remarks, which were part Obama critique and part Romney testimonial.
"Let me just say this is entertaining but holy hell it is weird," said Erick Erickson, editor of the conservative Red State blog, said on Twitter.
University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato posted on Twitter, "I'd feel better if I knew for sure that Clint doesn't see anyone in the chair."
Following his remarks, the Romney campaign issued a statement defending the movie star. "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."
While the remarks appeared awkward on television because it was unclear whom Eastwood was addressing, he was warmly welcomed in the hall. He closed by saying, "Go ahead" to which the hall chanted, "Make my day!" in reference to his famous one-liner from the film Dirty Harry.
Eastwood has been an active Republican his entire adult life, although he has at times supported Democratic candidates and maintains liberal social views and supports abortion rights and gay marriage. During the 1980s, Eastwood was mayor of Carmel, Calif.
The Academy Award winner drew headlines earlier this year when he was the voice of a high-profile Super Bowl ad for Chrysler declaring it was "halftime in America," which was perceived as being favorable to Obama and the auto bailout his administration helped orchestrate. Eastwood pushed back and said he was not "politically affiliated" with the president.