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Romney Aides Come Clean on Eastwood Speech

Romney Aides Come Clean on Eastwood Speech September 5, 2012

While the Romney campaign tries to put as good a spin as they can (at least in public) on Clint Eastwood’s bizarre speech at the Republican National Convention, privately they’re telling the truth about how it came about and how weird they thought it was too.

Behind the scenes, Mr. Eastwood’s convention cameo was cleared by Mr. Romney’s top message mavens, Russ Schriefer and Stuart Stevens, who drew up talking points that Mr. Eastwood included, in his own way. They gave him a time limit and flashed a blinking red light that told him his time was up. He ignored both. The actor’s decision to use a chair as a prop was last-minute, and his own.

“The prop person probably thought he was going to sit in it,” a baffled senior aide said on Thursday night.

Mr. Eastwood’s rambling and off-color appearance just moments before the biggest speech of Mr. Romney’s life instantly became a Twitter and cable-news sensation, which drowned out much of the usual postconvention analysis that his campaign had hoped to bask in.

It also startled and unsettled Mr. Romney’s top advisers and prompted a blame game among them. “Not me,” an exasperated-looking senior adviser said when asked who was responsible for Mr. Eastwood’s speech. In interviews, aides called the speech “strange” and “weird.” One described it as “theater of the absurd.”…

Romney advisers so trusted Mr. Eastwood, 82, that unlike with other speakers, they said they did not conduct rehearsals or insist on a script or communicate guidelines for the style or format of his remarks.

In the end, it’s just a blip on the radar. But it’s one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen in politics, the first authentic — as in not rehearsed and programmed — moment I’ve seen at a political convention in a long time.

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