Clint Eastwood Was ‘Ad-Libbing’ In Odd Convention Appearance, Says Romney Campaign

Clint Eastwood's appearance amounted to "ad-libbing" that was "a break from the political speech-making and the crowd enjoyed it”

The Romney presidential campaign distanced itself from Clint Eastwood’s odd appearance at the Republican National Convention on Thursday night, saying his conversation with a phantom President Obama amounted to “ad-libbing” and a joke.

“Judging an American icon like Clint Eastwood through a typical political lens doesn’t work,” a Romney spokesman said in response to a question from MSNBC. “His ad-libbing was a break from the political speech-making, and the crowd enjoyed it.”

Also read: Clint Eastwood Holds Weird One-Sided Debate With Obama's Empty Chair (Video)

But Eastwood’s appearance sparked critical and querelous reactions from the political commentators who were analyzing the speeches in Tampa.

In rambling, sometimes confusing remarks, the legendary director and actor – a Republican former mayor of Carmel, Calif. – addressed an empty chair where he pretended that Obama was sitting.

In his remarks, Eastwood acted as though the invisible Obama in the chair was cursing Mitt Romney and him as he critiqued Obama's policies, saying things ilke, "So, Mr. President: How do you handle promises that you've made when you were running for election? … I know some of the people in your own party were very disappointed that you didn't close Gitmo. … What do you mean shut up? … I thought it was just because somebody had the stupid idea of trying terrorists in downtown New York City."

Eastwood’s trademark, deadpan delivery struck many as odd and drew immediate criticism from television commentators as disrespectful to the president.

“Clint Eastwood was a disaster,” opined left-wing MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell, who also declared that Eastwood’s appearance was the brainchild of Republican strategist Stuart Stevens, a former producer on the political drama “Commander in Chief.”

He added: “For a final hour of convention to include what Clint Eastwood did up here was absolutely disastrous.”

Tom Brokaw tweeted: “Clint Eastwood became huge star as a man of few words As a surprise guest on the Tampa stage he had too many words (I say as a friend).”

Here is a sampling of other reactions to the appearance over Twitter:

Bob Newhart ‏@BobNewhart

I heard that Clint Eastwood was channeling me at the RNC. My lawyers and I are drafting our lawsuit… #RNC #ClintEastwood #rnc2012 #GOP2012

Piers Morgan @piersmorgan

Just ordered extra beer for the live midnight show guests. I think we all need one after Clint. #CNN

Andre Leon Talley @OfficialALT

Clint Eastwood should stay home, and look at his old Italian Westerns. He gets the highest award-Wreckitude! Wreckitude! Embarassing to All

Blake Shelton @blakeshelton

I. Love. Clint Eastwood.

Chris Rock @chrisrockoz

Clint Eastwood on the phone with Obama now: "It all went according to plan,sir." #RNC #GOP2012

Jenny Johnson @JennyJohnsonHi5

Breaking News: Clint Eastwood is yelling at an invisible Joe Biden standing at a urinal

Charlie Daniels ‏@CharlieDaniels

Clint Eastwood made my day.

Gary Owen @garyowencomedy

Hey Republicans why stop at Clint Eastwood bring Mel Gibson out next.

Seth Meyers ‏@sethmeyers21

Respect to Clint. 82 years old and putting Twitter over capacity.

Josh Marshall @joshtpm

Havent partaken in a while, but may need to smoke a joint and watch Clint speech over at half-speed.

Albert Brooks ‏@AlbertBrooks

That's what I thought! RT @dagdahlcast: Clint's doing an old Albert Brooks routine!

Donna Brazile ‏@donnabrazile

#Clint Eastwood needs to Geaux before he embarrass himself. Go ahead and make our convention a laughing stock.

Roger Ebert @ebertchicago

Clint, my hero, is coming across as sad and pathetic. He didn't need to do this to himself. It's unworthy of him.

DearWhitePeople ‏@DearWhitePeople

#DearWhitePeople – Am I the only one that got a shiver up my spine when Clint Eastwood said to a crazed white crowd "We own this country"

Roseanne Barr @TheRealRoseanne

clint eastwood is CRAY