'Strange' Clint Eastwood makes Democrats' day
The Romney campaign bought a promoted tweet on Twitter yesterday.
The US presidential aspirant paid somewhere north of $US120,000 for #RomneyRyan2012 to appear at the top of Twitter "Trending" list, at least on US users' home pages.
The promoted tweet should have capitalised on an appearance by a secret guest at the Republican National Convention in Tampa Flordia.
But when the secret guest - Clint Eastwood - made a bizarre, rambling speech to an empty chair (meant to signify President Obama) - social networks were flooded with tweets about the convention, but few of them were flattering.
Beyond the social media mob, liberal media was quick to pounce.
The New Yorker (Raving Clint spoils Romney's big night) said the device of talking to an empty chair could have worked, but was undermined by an Mr Eastwood's semi incoherence.
It didn't help that the Hollywood hardman was often short of breath and looked disheveled, with hair askew and his suit a size too big. Telling the chair to "shut up" at one point did not help - although overall the speech is not as loopy as some media have made out (watch it below).
The New York Times claimed finger-pointing and questions being asked in the Romney campaign, with an aide telling the paper a more standard endorsement speech had been expected. The Romney campaign's apparent failure to screen Eastwood's speech is said to be a reflection of the candidate's management skills.
The conservative Fox News, which yesterday called running mate Paul Ryan's speech "deceiving", had more sport at the Romney campaign's expense, noting that the new Twitter meme of #Eastwooding - or people posting photos of themselves chastising empty chairs (it was soon joined by a second meme, #obamaeastwoodmovies).
ABOVE: PBS video of Eastwood's 12-minute speech.
The press was not all bad. In The Wall Street Journal, conservative commentator Peggy Noonan wrote that two days in she had no faith in the convention, which had failed to gather any rhythm.
But Ms Noonan found the Dirty Harry's speech helped to turn things around:
Clint Eastwood was funny, endearing—"Oprah was crying"—and carries his own kind of cultural authority. "It's time for somebody else to come along and solve the problem." He was free-form, interesting—you didn't quite know what was going to come next—strange and, in the end, kind of exhilarating. Talk about icons. The crowd yelling, "Make my day," was one of the great convention moments, ever.
Closing the gap on Obama
And away from the Eastwood furor, the poll news seemed good for Mr Romney.
His own speech to the convention drew a neutral response, amid low expectations for Republican candidate's oratory ("He had to achieve adequacy. He did." wrote Ms Noonan). For better or worse, it was lost Romney's keynote was lost in the margins, thanks to Mr Eastwood's effort.
Nevertheless, a Realpolitics.com poll of polls had Obama's lead on Romney closing from 1% to 0.5% nationwide.
But Romney's problem remains that Obama has a larger lead in key battleground states such as Florida and Ohio.