Romney cuts Eastwood from RNC highlights as conservatives cheer empty chairs

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, September 3, 2012 13:34 EDT
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An empty chair, supposedly meant to protest President Obama. Photo: Twitter user @TheRightTweets.
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A video released by the Romney campaign last weekend excluded Hollywood director Clint Eastwood from a selection of Republican National Convention (RNC) “highlights,” even as Romney’s supporters rallied Monday for what they called “National Empty Chair Day.”

A clip of RNC highlights released Sunday by the Romney campaign emphasizes top Republican politicos like Romney, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, cutting Eastwood out entirely. But that didn’t have much of an effect on Romney’s supporters.

In what might go down as one of the most bizarre organized political protests ever, conservatives began publishing hundreds of photos of chairs on Monday to express their discontent with Obama, kicking off “National Empty Chair Day” on Twitter at the prompting of conservative bloggers. They’ve taken to calling empty chair photos “Eastwooding Obama,” but with a message so obtuse, it’s not quite clear if anyone other than protest participants even really gets it.

Eastwood’s speech seems to have divided conservatives, with many Romney campaign advisers and prominent Republicans panning the bizarre performance that featured Eastwood lecturing an empty chair meant as a stand-in for President Barack Obama. Speaking to empty chairs has, until now, been more associated with Gestalt therapy, a field of psychoanalysis that helps doctors examine how their patients relate to themselves.

In the wake of Eastwood’s speech, Obama’s campaign shared a photo of the president’s chair with the caption, “This seat’s taken.” The campaign’s Twitter post ended up being the most-shared RNC comment of all during the three-day event. Obama adviser David Plouffe later told ABC News, “We’re all Clint Eastwood fans here in the Obama campaign.” Ann Romney, on the other hand, simply said that Eastwood did “a unique thing” and that they’re grateful for his support.

Romney campaign aides admitted to The New York Times that the famed director’s empty chair routine was impromptu and unplanned. They also said he was cleared for a five minute speech, but ignored their signals to cut it short and pushed on for a full 12 minutes. Eastwood has since absorbed the lion’s share of media coverage from the convention’s last night, overshadowing Romney himself.

While that’s clearly not the outcome Romney’s campaign wanted, it may also be a blessing in disguise: A Gallup poll published Monday found that Romney’s nomination acceptance speech scored lower marks than any other presidential candidate to come before him. Just 38 percent said Romney’s speech was good or excellent, while the same percentage said Romney’s speech made them less likely to vote for him.

This video of RNC highlights was published to YouTube by the Romney campaign on Sept. 2, 2012.


Photo: Twitter user @TheRightTweets.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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