Clint Eastwood’s RNC chair debacle was so bad, Mitt Romey’s adviser threw up


Last year, in the heat of the presidential election, Mitt Romney met Clint Eastwood and Clint’s then-wife Dina for dinner. Apparently, Mitt was starstruck, and he invited his new friend to speak at the Republican National Convention. What happened at the RNC during Clint’s speech will go down in history as one of the biggest political miscalculations in modern history. Clint was basically given permission to say whatever he wanted, so he YELLED AT A CHAIR for about 20 minutes and it was terrible.

So, how exactly did this happen? The two men who literally wrote the book on the 2008 election (Game Change), Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, have written a new gossip-filled book about the 2012 election. The book is called Double Down: Game Change 2012. They’ve been teasing the book for the past two weeks, and I’m totally buying it. Anyway, here’s the behind-the-scenes story on what happened with Clint:

“Double Down: Game Change 2012,” Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s follow up to “Game Change,” answers one of the more perplexing questions of the 2012 presidential campaign: Why did Mitt Romney’s team give carte blanche to Clint Eastwood to say whatever he wanted in the final hour of the final night of the Republican National Convention? That’s when Eastwood famously spoke to an empty chair, in which the actor went well over his alloted time and left most of the audience baffled.

Romney’s senior strategist, Stuart Stevens, was backstage with Romney watching Eastwood, and while the Republican nominee “seemed to think it was funny — at least at first,” the authors write, Stevens was so upset by the “disaster occurring on stage” that he “excused himself, went into another room and vomited.”

Eastwood’s imaginary conversation with Obama instantly generated a storm of Twitter quips and a few parody handles, but the real damage may have been that much of the aftermath focused on the incident and not Romney’s speech later in the evening. Halperin and Heilemann give a simple explanation for how Eastwood came to be invited in the first place: Romney was “starstruck.”

A month before the late August appearance, Eastwood and his wife, Dina, had dinner with Mitt and Ann Romney in Carmel, Calif., and it soon led to the candidate asking for his help. Eastwood showed up at an Aug. 3 fundraiser in Sun Valley, Idaho, where he gave a shorter speech to donors that was enough of a hit with the crowd that Romney instructed his staff to try to get him for the convention.

According to “Double Down,” some on the Romney staff had reservations about Eastwood, then 82, and that his remarks weren’t being vetted beforehand. Other convention speakers ran their remarks by the campaign. Russ Schriefer, in charge of programming the convention for the Romney campaign, tried to give him suggestions for what he should say. But Schriefer was confident that Eastwood could wing it without a script.

In his hotel, Eastwood was listening to an oldies station and heard Neil Diamond’s “I Am…I Said,” which features a line about talking to a chair, the authors write. Just before making his entrance on stage, Eastwood asked a stage hand to put a stool on stage to the left of the podium. The result was a mixture of standup and surrealism, and while Eastwood recovered somewhat by the end of his speech, campaign aides were fuming.

Eastwood later said, “If somebody’s dumb enough to ask me to say something, they’re gonna have to take what they can get.” As it turned out, Diamond had a role in the 2012 campaign, too, but for Obama. He performed for California volunteers two days before the election. “Double Down,” published on Tuesday, has been optioned by HBO, just as the network did with ”Game Change.” Halperin and Heilemann’s book also features passages on Donald Trump’s flirtation with running for president, and Romney’s efforts to keep him in check yet still draw his support.

Jeffrey Katzenberg is mentioned as one of the few deep pocketed Democratic donors to step forward early to support an Obama SuperPAC, Priorities USA Action, even while other progressives remained circumspect.

He eventually rounded up nine Hollywood and tech figures to attend an October, 2012, lunch at his home with Obama and former President Bill Clinton. At the time, the campaign billed it as a “thank you” event to the president’s supporters, not a fundraiser, and while the donors’ identities were kept secret, the authors said that Seth MacFarlane, Steven Spielberg, Sean Parker and Eric Schmidt were among the donors present. After they left, at Katzenberg’s home Clinton gave advice to Obama about how to come back from a shoddy debate performance just days earlier.

The authors also make mention of the movie that Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, watched in his hotel room the day of his convention speech. It was HBO’s “Game Change,” which focused on John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate. “Ryan was riveted, but soon regretted it,” the authors write.

[From Variety]

That’s an interesting detail about Paul Ryan watching Game Change (which is an excellent movie). I hope Ryan was too freaked out – he’s a lot smarter than Sarah Palin, although that’s setting the bar pretty low. As for the Clint catastrophe… I really do think it was a turning point for the election. Maybe it wasn’t the BIG turning point or whatever, but the fact is that Romney’s people just had an awful convention and Clint’s chair-yelling was the arsenic icing on the dung-cake. The whole thing made the Romney campaign look half-assed and unserious, which is probably why that dude had to go throw up.

Here’s Clint’s speech at the RNC again. OMG. This is even worse more than a year later.


Photos courtesy of WENN.

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30 Responses to “Clint Eastwood’s RNC chair debacle was so bad, Mitt Romey’s adviser threw up”

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  1. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I think vomiting was a very reasonable response.

    • Kiddo says:

      +1, funny.

    • qtpi says:

      Yes. Because at that point they couldn’t stop him. You don’t go out on stage and yank Eastwood off. What was done, was done.

      There were a lot of mistakes at that convention. Christie was selling himself and not Romney. Eastwood. And they had an excellent intro video that the whole country was supposed to see that talked all about the Romneys and their life which ended up only being shown in the hall.

    • Esmom says:


      I’m excited for the book, too. Game Change was such a page-turner that I was initially skeptical that this book could come close in terms of juicy drama. I’m sold now.

  2. Scarlett says:

    I never get tired of watching that.

  3. Ag says:

    “Icing on the dung cake.” Lol

    I would have thrown up too if i were him. And then leaked major “this man is OLD, senile, and insane” stories. Haha

  4. aims says:

    I’d think anyone watching or participating with the RNC would naturally want to throw up, or at least have some sort of gag reflex. Sorry, too easy.

    You’re right, Sarah Palin is painfully stupid.

  5. dremy says:

    Actually it was a hit or miss stunt.
    As in if properly executed it could have been great.
    But it sadly missed.
    #nolovetorepublican #allrespecttoClint

  6. Jennabean says:

    Ctfu at the headline . It’s def a proper response

  7. starrywonder says:

    This will never not be funny. I remember thinking why Republicans you are seriously high right now to allow this to happen.

  8. Bondon says:

    Well I vomited upon reading how Mitt Romney tied his Irish Setter to the roof of the family car for a 3-hour trip. We had an Irish Setter growing up, and I just couldn’t fathom doing something so callous to the family dog. Says a lot about people how they treat animals.

    • qtpi says:

      Don’t forget the story about him pinning that classmate down and cutting his hair off. He is a horrible bully.

      The book has stories now of him making fun of Christie as he tried to walk thru the bus and Romney also pointed out large women on the street and made cracks about them. Loser.

      • joan says:

        Romney is a bully who only picks on the vulnerable. If they’re a [possibly] gay child, overweight, a helpless animal, then he’s first in line to torture them.

        Or if you’re a hard-working poor person.

        I don’t think he’s evil as much as he’s stunted emotionally. Warped and unevolved. But that’s kinda like evil.

      • Janet says:

        @Joan: It’s the typical upper-class republican mindset. He was born into a world of privilege and thinks he has a God-given right to pick on anyone he considers inferior to him, which is 99% of the world.

        You know what told me everything about Romney that needed to be said? On election night, as soon as he realized he had lost, his first act was to cancel all his staffers’ expense accounts. Those people had been been working for him for months, and they found themselves stranded at the campaign headquarters in the middle of the night without transportation money to get back home.

        Oh yeah, and his planned red-white-and-blue fireworks extravaganza over Boston Harbor as soon as Fox News announced he had won. I wonder who paid for all those unexploded roman candles?

  9. MissCherokee says:

    This book is a nice distraction from Obama’s approval ratings going into a free fall – it is now in the 30’s according to Gallup – lowest ever for the President. Even George W. Bush at this time in his second term had a higher approval rating than Obama….yikes.

  10. Arock says:

    I remember watching that and thinking ” what just happened”. I was genuinely worried he had experience a seizure or stoke in the minutes leading up to it. The RNC never plays and idea out to its conclusion- the shut down, health care, mid terms etc. I do remember thingi g Romney got off very easy with little acknowledgment of that from his campaign.

  11. GIRLFACE says:

    R.I.P GOP

  12. Zombie Shortcake says:

    Imagine all the songs he could have heard on the radio that day… His speech could have been even worse than talking to a chair.

    • LB says:

      “And America, Mitt’s never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna turn around, and desert you”

  13. Meg says:

    they were trying to hard to make mitt look more like man so they got the manliest man they could think of, except the man is in his 80s and babbles on stage, accusing obama of things bush is responsible for. i cannot believe the romney campaign was okay with letting anyone on stage with an unscripted speech, let alone a man in his 80s. that shows the lack of organization and intelligence in their campaign.

  14. joan says:

    I’d thought a new HBO film couldn’t possibly be as good w/o Sarah P.

    But reading the names here — Trump, for God’s sake! — I’m now salivating at all the juicy roles in it.

    Spader for Trump maybe? Josh Brolin for Romney? Who plays Clinton? And Eastwood?

    And Anne Romney — what a part!

    This could be really really good!

  15. blinkblue says:

    ” The arsenic icing on the dung-cake”. Magnificent!

  16. holly hobby says:

    I’m not a political junkie but I did read Game Change and watched the HBO movie. The book was excellent and so was the movie. I have already put this on my wish list for books to read.

  17. Thiajoka says:

    Hell yeah, vomiting is the go-to response to something like that. I’m a die-hard Dem and even I vomited. Of course, it was from laughing too much… 🙂

  18. lucy2 says:

    I never read Game Change, but the HBO film was excellent. If they do another for the 2012 election, I’d check it out.

    I don’t blame the guy for vomiting, I can’t imagine the oh shit! feeling they must have all had. I’m still amazed they let him go out there without discussing his speech ahead of time.