Democrats mock Eastwood speech; Republican concedes 'distraction'

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Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) conceded Friday on CNN's "Starting Point" that Eastwood was "maybe a little bit of a distraction."

The star of many iconic westerns delivered a rambling speech the previous evening that was almost twice as long as the time he was allotted, addressing an empty chair on stage as "Mr. Obama" throughout.

"Judging an American icon like Clint Eastwood through a typical political lens doesn't work," a Romney campaign spokeswoman told multiple media outlets following the speech. "His ad-libbing was a break from all the political speeches, and the crowd enjoyed it."

But several Democrats mocked the speech and political observers on Friday wondered if Eastwood stole the show from Mitt Romney, who delivered his official acceptance speech for the GOP presidential nomination about 20 minutes after Eastwood left the stage. Although the morning news shows led with Romney's speech, guests were asked about Eastwood as well. 

Chaffetz was not the only Republican looking to refocus on the GOP nominee.

Ann Romney, appearing on multiple networks to talk about her husband's speech, answered questions about Eastwood in almost every interview. 

"I didn't even know he was going to come on stage," she said on ABC's "Good Morning America," adding, "I was grateful for his support."

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that he "cringed" at Eastwood's speech and said he preferred the documentary short including personal moments from Romney's past that played to the convention hall and cable news just before prime-time coverage started on the networks.

"I just wish, frankly, I would have rather seen that than Clint Eastwood during the prime time," Walker said. 

President Obama's senior campaign adviser had a similar opinion. "I thought that film they did was very nice; I'm sure they regret that more people didn't see it," David Axelrod told MSNBC in a separate appearance on "Morning Joe."

"I love Clint Eastwood; he's a great filmmaker," Axelrod also said. "I'm sure in retrospect they would have rather run the film than the filmmaker."

He said that at the Democratic National Convention, Obama's campaign would handle the speaker schedule "a different way."

Democratic Reps. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.) and Steve Cohen (Tenn.) took to Twitter to express their opinion of Eastwood's speech.  

"Clint Eastwood debating an empty chair may have had more policy in it than Mitt's speech," Blumenauer tweeted Friday.

"Make my day #Clint Eastwood -go back to your day job!" Cohen tweeted late Thursday night. Eastwood pleased the GOP audience by including the memorable line he utters as the character "Dirty" Harry Callahan in the 1983 film "Sudden Impact."

Eastwood's appearance was not announced until Thursday, though rumors coalesced around the movie star earlier in the week following the inclusion of a "to be announced" mystery speaker on the convention schedule.

By Friday, he had already prompted an Internet meme called "Eastwooding," pictures of people pointing at empty chairs. He also earned a bad review from film critic Roger Ebert, who tweeted that Eastwood's speech was "unworthy of him."