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August 31, 2012

Romney campaign tries to explain Eastwood

The Romney campaign is saying Clilnt Eastwood's controversial performance at Thursday night's Republican convention was unscripted, but well-received.

If the crowd hadn't like it, they would have booed or otherwise expressed their displeasure with the actor-director, said top Romney strategist Stuart Stevens.

"It was an improv. He had done this at two fundraisers," he explained.

Including the empty chair Eastwood debated? "That was an improv," Stevens said.

The chair was not discussed with campaign officials, and it was unclear how it wound up on stage. Certainly the prop people knew, said one Romney aide who did not want to be quoted.

The candidate himself? "He was laughing," Stevens said.

Eastwood's chair spurs an Internet sensation

Actor/director Clint Eastwood's unscripted appearance in support of Mitt Romney has touched off a number of internet memes -- from #eastwooding -- tweeting photos while berating a chair -- to @invisibleobama -- a spoof twitter account that has gained more followers than the Republican nominee and his running mate. (And a Washington Post post on Eastwood movies where he's not talking to a chair) 

The account -- which launched within seconds of Eastwood's rambling speech in which he addressed an empty chair as though Obama was sitting in it -- has reached nearly 50,000 followers. And much of the coverage of Romney's convention speech has centered around the Eastwood sensation, which at times bordered on the profane (and included Eastwood making a slicing motion across his neck when he suggested it was time for Obama to go.) The Obama campaign got a piece of the action, tweeting a picture of Obama in a chair with the caption, "This seat's taken."

Ann Romney got asked about it this morning. But the campaign is defending the appearance -- even as advisors duck for cover about whose idea it was.

"If you wake up tomorrow and all the headlines are, Clint Eastwood goes bunkers, that's not good for you, is it?" CNN's Piers Morgan asked Romney spokeswoman Gail Gitcho.

But Gitcho told Morgan the crowd "loved" Eastwood's talk and that he "ad libbed, but he was making a very serious point... You can't look at Clint Eastwood -- he's an American icon. You can't look at him through the same political lens that you would other politicians. He's Clint Eastwood."

White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters he didn't have any reaction from Obama "to share with you."

Carney said he's a "huge fan and admirer "of Eastwood's work, but added: "I wasn’t quite sure what I was watching last night."

President Obama to tour storm damage in Louisiana

President Obama will head to Louisiana on Monday to visit damage from Hurricane Isaac and will meet with local officials to view ongoing response and recovery efforts.

Obama was scheduled to campaign Monday in Toledo and Cleveland, Ohio as part of his "Road to Charlotte," leading up to his arrival at the Democratic National Convention, but the event in Cleveland has been scrapped.

Obama's Republican rival, Mitt Romney, will beat the president to the area with a trip there today. Both are likely to use the appearance to present themselves as presidential and in charge: As Isaac steamed up the coast this week, Republicans cancelled a day of their convention and the White House made certain to keep reporters posted on Obama's daily storm briefings.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the decision to go to Louisiana was made before the WH learned Romney would be going as well.

Biden to take on Paul Ryan in Ohio: Folks, let's take a look at the facts

Vice President Joe Biden today will take on his rival's remarks before the Republican National Convention, suggesting there was some stretching of the truth.

"You heard Congressman Ryan on Wednesday night, blame the closing of a GM plant in his hometown of Janesville on the President. Folks, let’s look at the facts," Biden said, according to prepared remarks. "Congressman Ryan was right about one thing. It was devastating for the community and those people.

"But what he didn’t tell you was that plant in Janesville actually closed while President Bush was still in office.

Continue reading "Biden to take on Paul Ryan in Ohio: Folks, let's take a look at the facts " »

2 years after declaring end to Iraq war, Obama heads to Fort Bliss

President Obama is heading today to Fort Bliss, Texas -- two years to the date that he announced the end of the combat mission in Iraq.

The White House says he'll have a roundtable with service-members and military families and talk to the troops, "focusing on how part of ending wars responsibly demands standing by those who have served. 

While the trip is technically official business, Obama often talks on the campaign trail about what he says is his administration's ironclad commitment to help returning service members find health care and jobs. 

"That is a responsibility the President believes is incredibly profound, and it's a matter of substantive policy," press secretary Jay Carney said of the trip's designation as official, rather than campaign.

The WH says Obama before leaving DC signed an executive order to "expand suicide prevention strategies and take steps to meet the current and future demand for mental health and substance abuse treatment services for veterans, service members, and their families."

Romney will detour to Louisiana Friday

Mitt Romney will take a detour Friday and head for Louisiana, which has been battered all week by Tropical Storm Isaac.

The Republican presidential candidate is due in Lakeland, Florida, shortly for a farewell rally, following the GOP convention. He had been slated to head for Richmond, Virginia, but now will go to Louisiana instead.

August 30, 2012

Romney: "I wish President Obama had succeeded"

Mitt Romney plans to deliver an acceptance speech later Thursday that urges President Barack Obama's supporters to join him.

Among the remarks prepared for delivery:

"I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed. But his promises gave way to disappointment and division.  This isn't something we have to accept. Now is the moment when we CAN do something. With your help we will do something.

"Now is the moment when we can stand up and say, “I’m an American. I make my destiny. And we deserve better! My children deserve better! My family deserves better. My country deserves better!”

"So here we stand. Americans have a choice. A decision. To make that choice, you need to know more about me and about where I will lead our country."




President Obama ignores RNC speeches, works on his own

President Obama might not be watching the Republican National Convention speeches in Tampa, but he's getting ready for his own -- to be delivered next week in Charlotte. 

Press Secretary Jay Carney said it was unlikely Obama watched Paul Ryan's speech Wednesday night and he wasn't sure if the president would watch Mitt Romney's tonight.

But Obama is already "doing some work in preparation" for his own speech, Carney said.

"The president does engage on important speeches, you know," Carney said. "So he's working directly on the speech."

Obama, and now staff, embrace "Obamacare"

The word was considered a slur against President Obama's health care plan, bandied about by critics on the right who oppose the Affordable Health Care Act. But Obama for months has been embracing the term, saying he doesn't mind it because "I do care."

And today, Press Secretary Jay Carney -- as he refuted Paul Ryan's claim that the health care plan robbed from Medicare -- took his boss's lead, saying that as Obama said Wednesday, the health care plan, "affectionately known as Obamacare," would strength Medicare. All told he uttered the word four times.

"What the savings in the health care reform act, the -- Obamacare achieved is -- has been judged by (the Congressional Budget Office) and others to have extended the life of Medicare by eight years," Carney said. "Repealing Obamacare would bring insolvency eight years sooner."

Obama on Reddit: Promises White House beer recipe will be revealed

President Obama -- the first president to host a question and answer session on the social news website,  Reddit -- told questioners Wednesday night that the administration will soon make public the recipe for White House beer. A Reddit user had filed a Freedom of Information request for the details.

"It will be out soon!" Obama told the participants. "I can tell from first hand experience, it is tasty."

He did answer more serious questions, including telling participants that his "most difficult" decision was the one to send more troops into Afghanistan.

"Any time you send our brave men and women into battle, you know that not everyone will come home safely, and that necessarily weighs heavily on you," he wrote. "The decision did help us blunt the taliban's momentum, and is allowing us to transition to afghan lead - so we will have recovered that surge at the end of this month, and will end the war at the end of 2014. But knowing of the heroes that have fallen is something you never forget."

He didn't answer a host of questions (including whether he likes cats,) but signaled he enjoyed the banter: "By the way, if you want to know what I think about this whole Reddit experience — NOT BAD!" he wrote.


"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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