NEW YORK/LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) – Mitt Romney may have a gravelly voiced act to follow on Thursday. Clint Eastwood could be the mystery speaker expected to address the RNC crowd before the Republican presidential hopeful takes the podium on the last night of the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla., according to Fox News.
Republicans have managed to inject some drama into their convention – amid widespread complaints that national conventions have become stagey, boring multi-day commercials – by allowing speculation to run rampant about who will share the stage with Romney Thursday. Organizers built up the buzz by reserving a special guest spot on that evening’s program in between a performance by “American Idol” alum Taylor Hicks and a speech by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
Possible names have ranged from Sarah Palin to Eastwood, and Fox News reported Wednesday that a Republican source said it would be the “Million Dollar Baby” director and former mayor of Carmel, California.
Cue the Dirty Harry-inspired media chatter about Eastwood making Romney’s day.
Eastwood’s manager, Leonard Hirshan, told TheWrap on Wednesday afternoon that he knew Eastwood was in Carmel that day but didn’t have any information about the actor’s plans to head to Tampa. Townhall claimed in a report posted early Wednesday morning that the Oscar-winner would be traveling to Florida to catch the tail end of the convention, according to a “well-placed Republican source.”
For his part, Bruce Thompson, a California GOP delegate quoted in Fox’s story, didn’t have quite the fanboy reaction to the Eastwood news that convention planners might be hoping for. “He’s all right, despite being associated with Hollywood,” Thompson said.
The GOP has typically kept a wary distance from Hollywood and the less family-friendly associations with the hedonistic aspects of celebrity, preferring to link those ideals to the opposition. In July of 2008, then-Republican presidential nominee John McCain came out swinging with a campaign spot called “Celebrity,” which blatantly equated Obama with the likes of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.
All the same, given Jon Voight’s vocal presence at the Tampa summit, as well as the public backing provided by other conservative celebrities like Chuck Norris, Kelsey Grammer, Ted Nugent and Janine Turner, a bit of strategically placed celebrity advocacy during election season tends to draw media attention, at the very least.
Earlier this year, Eastwood came under criticism from conservatives for a Super Bowl ad that some interpreted as a tacit endorsement of President Obama. But Eastwood has since endorsed Romney.