TAMPA, Fla. -- 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.
Standing on the convention stage with an empty chair, Eastwood carried on a sometimes rambling conversation with an imaginary President Barack Obama. The Oscar-winning director of "Unforgiven" and "Million Dollar Baby" criticized Obama for failing to turn the economy around and for wanting to close the Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspects.
"How do you handle the promises you've made? What do you say?" Eastwood asked the imaginary Obama. "I know even some of the people in your party were disappointed you didn't close Gitmo," the Guantanamo prison.
"What do you mean 'shut up'?" said Eastwood, acting indignant. "I thought it was just because somebody had a stupid idea of trying terrorists in New York City."
At another point, the 82-year-old Eastwood acted as if he were listening to the imaginary Obama unleash a diatribe against Romney, poking Vice President Joe Biden and letting the convention audience guess what the president said.
"He can't do that to himself. You're absolutely crazy!" Eastwood responded. "You're getting as bad as Biden. Biden is the intellect in the Democratic Party. It's just kind of a grin with a body behind it."
"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.
Backstage, stern-faced Romney aides winced at times as Eastwood's remarks stretched on. The actor was the only speaker not reading from a teleprompter as he spoke.
The machine was blank.
Twitter was instantly ablaze with comments mocking Eastwood's rambling speech.