The worst-kept secret of the Republican National Convention was revealed Thursday evening, when Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood took the stage to lend his magnetism and distinctively gravelly voice on behalf of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
The 82-year-old actor and two-time Oscar-winning director, who in early August endorsed Mr. Romney, joked with the crowd and mostly ignored his hard-edged persona while warning about the country's path under another four years of President Obama.
"When someone doesn't do the job, you've got to let him go," he said to big cheers. "Just remember that."
He joked about being a Mr. Romney supporter while plying his trade in an industry dominated by Democrats.
"I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, what's movie tradesman doing out here? You know they are all left-wingers out there, left of (Vladimir) Lenin," he said.
Mr. Eastwood borrowed a page from an old comedy routine by speaking to an imaginary Mr. Obama sitting in an empty chair next to the podium, asking the faux president; "How do you handle promises that you have made when you were running for election? … what do you say to people?"
The empty chair routine has received mixed reviews from viewers responding on Twitter and other social media tools. But Mr. Eastwood received warm and robust response from the convention hall.
Mr. Eastwood praised Mr. Romney's entrepreneurial experience, saying, "I think it's maybe time for a businessman … a stellar businessman."
Pundits had speculated all week about who would fill the to-be-announced speaking slot that RNC organizers reserved ahead of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Mr. Romney, to round out the convention.
Republicans tried to keep the speaker's identity under wraps, but Fox News and CNN cited anonymous GOP sources earlier in the day who said it would be Mr. Eastwood.
A self-described libertarian, Mr. Eastwood endorsed 2008 Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain. He expressed support for Mr. Obama after he won the presidency four year ago, but later appeared disillusioned with the Democrat, calling him a "greenhorn."
Mr. Eastwood appeared in a Chrysler car commercial for a Super Bowl TV ad this year, leading some to think it was an endorsement of Mr. Obama's bailout of the domestic auto industry.
The Hollywood icon also served as mayor of Carmel, Calif., a wealthy coastal city of 3,700, from 1986 to 1988.
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