TAMPA, Fla. -- No way around it: The Clint Eastwood empty chair schtick was a distraction. On a morning that should have belonged to Mitt Romney, the watercooler talk inevitably revolved around Eastwood. In an interview with CBS, Ann Romney was asked whether having Eastwood onstage was a “mistake.”
Romney would not allow herself to be drawn into that kind of characterization, though she did seem to have some regrets about the prime-time lineup and said she didn’t know in advance about Eastwood’s appearance.
Television viewers did not see a touching and humorous Romney biographical video, nor did they see what for many was an emotional highlight of the evening--speeches by several of Mitt Romney’s fellow Mormons, moving tributes by old friends about his selfless acts of friendship when their families were in crisis.
“There was this really touching moment before Clint Eastwood and your husband came out,” said Norah O’Donnell on CBS “This Morning.” “This video that talked about a lot of the things you were talking about, your background together, Mitt Romney’s parents and their love story. Do you wish that video had aired in prime time instead of Clint Eastwood's monologue?”
“We appreciated Clint’s support, of course, but it's so hard to really get a sense of who this person is in such a short amount of time,” she said. “But yes, I do wish more people had seen -- had seen those touching moments. …For me the more touching moments were the real personal testimonials, the real live people whose real lives had been so impacted by such loss and such difficulty in their lives and how Mitt was there for them.”
O’Donnell’s co-host, Charlie Rose, persisted: “But you seem to be surprised by…Clint Eastwood’s performance as the camera took a cutaway of you.”
“I didn’t know it was coming,” Romney replied.
In another morning interview on CNN, Romney deftly dodged a question from Candy Crowley about whether the Republican Party is to blame for its substantial, and longstanding, gender gap.
She also implied that President Obama is not a mature adult capable of handling the nation’s considerable economic problems.
“I’m not a political pundit so I’m not going to be able to really answer that,” Romney said about the GOP’s gender gap. “But I will tell you what I’m hearing from women across the country right now….I'm hearing from so many women that may not have considered voting for a Republican before that said, it's time for the grown-up to come, the man that's going to…take this very seriously and take the future of our children very seriously.”