What was Mitt Romney’s reaction to Clint Eastwood’s rambling and at times lewd conversation with an imaginary President Barack Obama at the Republican National Convention Thursday night?
He “thought it was funny,” said Stuart Stevens, a top aide who was backstage with the Republican presidential nominee as he watched Eastwood, the actor and Oscar-winning director, speak to an empty chair for more than 10 minutes during primetime, on the highest-profile night of a carefully scripted convention.
Stevens said Eastwood’s routine — including a joke about the president using an off-color insult involving an impossible-to-perform sexual act — was “improv,” and said nobody knew he would talk to an empty chair and pretend it was Obama. The 82-year-old, whose speech had been billed as a surprise until it leaked out several hours in advance, “just asked a prop person to bring a chair out, and the prop person I think thought he was going to sit in it. I don’t know what happened that moment,” Stevens told reporters in Kenner, Louisiana on Friday.
Once he figured out what Eastwood was up to, Romney “laughed” as he watched, his aide said.
Questioned about whether there had been any recriminations or negative consequences, Stevens denied it, saying, “There’s not any fallout. I think people who saw it liked it.”
Still, asked whether he was eyeing his watch during Eastwood’s longer-than-expected riff, Steven confessed: “That would be a true statement.”