There was undeniable excitement in the air on Thursday. It was the night they had all been waiting for: the Big Speech. All week we had been surrounded by Mitt Romney billboards, treated to stories about Mitt Romney and sold schwag bearing his name. And then he was finally there. It was the Homecoming Game.
After filming the morning segment for CBS 5 KPIX, I headed out to a resort where the California delegation was staying. A huge number of folks — about 600, I’m told — made up of delegates, alternates and families had taken over one resort in St. Petersburg.
I arrived and set up shop in the lobby of the hotel. Judy Lloyd of Danville had helped arrange for a group of delegates to be interviewed on camera. One by one, they bravely stepped in front of the camera without any idea of what I was going to ask.
Bless their hearts!
Here’s the video of their responses.
A few minutes later, things got ... weird.
Everyone knew the “secret guest” was Clint Eastwood, and a few of us scoffed at how un-secret it was.
The forum boomed with someone doing an almost-right cover of “Man in the Mirror.” The peppy song abruptly ended and the theme from “A Fistful of Dollars” took over. Which, weird.
Then the teleprompter, which we could see from the press area, STOPPED. Clint was talking with no direction. (In hindsight, this is obvious, but at the time, we were surprised and intrigued.)
Then I took back my scoffing, there really was a secret guest: Invisible Barack Obama.
“Oh no. Oh no,” said Dave shaking his head. “He is stealing the show. There is nothing Mitt Romney can say to beat this.”
I looked over at Paul Ryan and Ann Romney and noted the lack of enthusiasm for the show. I suspect they were thinking the same thing.
My German neighbor nudged me, and said, “What is going on?”
I tried to explain that this actor was here because people love him and he’s tough, or at least he plays tough characters and anyway he’s a Romney supporter ... and as you can see he’s talking to a ... chair ... and ... well ... I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS GOING ON.
Afterwords, we heard Marco Rubio’s speech about how America is the most special place in the world and we are exceptional and super-ultra-hyper-XXX-AWESOME. (From my German neighbor: “I guess I should go apply for a green card now.”) After Eastwood’s silliness, I was not sure how I felt about other nations seeing how we choose our leaders.
But then Dave turned his computer around to show me a Twitter feed for @invisibleobama. Message, “Someone should tell Marco Rubio he’s standing on my foot right now.” In about 6 minutes, it had about 18,000 followers.
And my faith in America’s exceptionalism was restored.
** I’m in Charlotte now and will be reporting from the DNC, which begins on today.