The American election finally kicked off with a speech from Republican nominee Mitt Romney, but the man on everyone's lips last night was not the Republican leader, but his bizarre warm-up act, Hollywood star Clint Eastwood and a chair he pretended was President Barack Obama
After a six-year slog, Romney finally addressed the Republican faithful as the Presidential nominee, vowing to beat Obama, create jobs and champion business.
Eastwood drove the crowd wild with a strange routine involving addressing and rebuking a chair, pretending it was Obama.
The president's response got more than 20,000 retweets.
Thursday night was meant to be Romney's night.
With his eyes bright, looking emotional, Romney accepted the presidential nomination in front of a wild crowd at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida and pledged to "restore the promise of America".
His focus was doggedly on the economy, but he also made special mention of his mentoring of women leaders, in a bid to attract female voters the Republicans have alienated over abortion and birth control.
Mitt Romney has addressed the Republican National Convention
Romney lent on his success in the private sector to prove to Americans he could heal their economic woes, which has left 23 million unemployed.
"What is needed in our country today is not complicated or profound," he said. "It doesn't take a special government commission. What America needs is jobs. Lots of jobs".
He promised to create 12 million new jobs, make the country energy independent in eight years and champion small businesses which he called the country's "engine of job growth".
He said: "President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family".
Romney also vowed to repeal Obama's healthcare reforms, despite the president's 'Obamacare' being based on a scheme Romney first created in Massachusetts as governor.
But above all, speaking below a rapidly-increasingly counter showing delegates how quickly their $15 trillion national debt is rising, Romney promised: "We will cut the deficit and put America on track to a balanced budget".
Romney, neck-and-neck with Obama in most opinion polls, is trailing by eight points in his appeal to women.
So he appealed to them, pointing to his record supporting women in business and working with them in politics.
"As Governor of Massachusetts, I chose a woman Lieutenant Governor, a woman chief of staff, half of my cabinet and senior officials were women," he said.
"In business, I mentored and supported great women leaders who went on to run great companies".
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan are on stage with their wives Ann Romney and Janna Ryan at the end of the Republican National Convention
But his main plea was to those who might have voted blue in 2008, because of the excitement around Obama, who now feel the president has not lived up to his hype: "If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn't you feel that way now that he's President Obama?
"You know there's something wrong with the kind of job he's done as president when the best feeling you had, was the day you voted for him.
"His promises gave way to disappointment and division. 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!'"
It might have been assumed that nothing could steal the show from the presidential nominee at the Republican convention.
But an ageing Hollywood star almost stole the show, with Clint Eastwood performing a bizarre warm-up, talking to an empty chair as if it were Obama.
The strange routine inspired a Twitter meme, #eastwooding.
Eastwood rebuked the chair for its broken promises and for keeping troops in Afghanistan.
"So Mr. President, how do you handle promises you've made? I think Mr. Romney asked the only sensible question, you know, he says, "Why are you giving the date out now? Why don't you just bring them home tomorrow morning?" Eastwood added.
He mimed a response to the chair, repeating the puzzling refrain "I can't do that to myself."
Eastwood also attacked Obama's use of Air Force One, which he called a "big gas guzzler".
"When somebody doesn't do the job, you gotta let them go," he said, gesturing to draw a finger across his throat.
Someone in the crowd shouted out "make my day!" to which he responded, "I don't say that word anymore."
But he had to oblige, eventually.
"Go ahead," he said, and the crowd boomed "MAKE MY DAY!"
The Romney campaign seemed to grasp how Eastwood's bizarre, rambling, unscripted speech fell flat.
"Judging an American icon like Clint Eastwood through a typical political lens doesn't work," was the campaign's response.
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