TAMPA -- “He said it the way only Clint Eastwood could,” said Dough Hutt, a construction business owner from New Jersey in one of the truest statements of the evening. The actor’s speech at the Republican National Convention, if it can be called that, drew loud cheers from the crowd, along with a mix of fervent approval and befuddlement from delegates and politicians who lingered on the floor after the night's events finished.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was sold. “I thought it was terrific! He said all the right things, standing up there and talking to Mr. Obama and he wasn’t listening!” Mark Sanford, the former governor of South Carolina who recently married his Argentine girlfriend, said flatly of Eastwood, "I thought that was fun."
Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio -- who asked if Salon was a “beauty shack” -- said, “I also like Clint Eastwood, that was nice of him to come down. A great actor, a great American, and I like the 'make my day.'” Arpaio said he liked Eastwood’s unusual format as it helped him “come around to meet the people.”
Barbara Finger, a delegate from Wisconsin wearing a cammo dress she made herself and a giant ACORN button, liked Eastwood's "deadpan humor." "I thought it was really good and really effective," she said.
“Oh, I love Clint Eastwood. I used to watch him when I was a child and I think he’s a fabulous American. It was different,” said April Axthelm, a delegate from Mt. Vernon, Wash. Sol Grosskopf, a much-photographed delegate from Wisconsin who sported a cheesehead hat and bow tie all week, was less enthused. "I didn't expect it. It was something you don't normally see as introductory speech."
"He was intriguing, wasn't he?" said Rex Teeter after pausing to laugh and think for a second. Fellow Texas delegate Janis Holt, wearing a red, white and blue sequence vest and cowboy hat, was more emphatic: "He made my day!"