Clint Eastwood's Empty Chair Speech / Eastwooding / Invisible Obama

Clint Eastwood's Empty Chair Speech / Eastwooding / Invisible Obama

Part of a series on 2012 United States Presidential Election. [View Related Entries]

Updated Mar 05, 2019 at 04:04PM EST by Brad.

Added Aug 31, 2012 at 01:00AM EDT by Katie C..

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Clint Eastwood’s Empty Chair Speech refers to a speech given by American actor and director Clint Eastwood[1], who appeared as a guest speaker at the 2012 Republican National Convention on August 30th.[2] During his time on stage, Clint Eastwood turned to an empty chair as if Barack Obama was sitting there and mockingly interviewed him on behalf of the Republican Party. This straw man respresentation of Obama was later given the nickname Invisible Obama.


On August 30th, 2012, American actor Clint Eastwood appeared on stage at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, to give an endorsement speech for the Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. While Eastwood's speech was met by mixed reception in the news media and the blogosphere, the most memorable moment of the speech came when he began asking a series of questions to an empty chair alongside his podium that were rhetorically directed at President Obama.

Notable Developments

As the speech aired on television, Twitter and Google+ users reacted by posting jokes about Eastwood's mock interview, many of whom used the hashtag #invisibleobama. From 12 pm (ET) on August 30th to 12 pm (ET) on August 31st, approximately 93,204 tweets were posted about Clint Eastwood[3], with 78,272 of them occurring during the hour of 11pm on August 30th. The speech also made it to Iran the following day, where people were even more baffled. The speech has become a notable American topic among Iranians on Facebook and other sites.[4]

The following day, the speech made its way onto The Daily Show (shown left) and The Colbert Report (shown right), with Colbert doing a parody debate with a chair.

@BarackObama's Response

At 10:19 pm (ET), the Twitter parody account @InvisibleObama[5] tweeted for the first time, using a picture of an empty chair as its user profile icon. At 12:29 am, President Obama's official Twitter account responded to Eastwood's speech by saying "This seat's taken," followed by a photo of Obama seated in a chair labeled "The President, January 20th, 2009." As of 12 pm, August 31st, @BarackObama's photo tweet had been retweeted 36,140 times and favorited 14,025 times.

Photo Fad: Eastwooding

Salt Lake Tribune reporter Robert Gehrke[11] posted the first Eastwooding image on Twitter of his coworker political reporter Thomas Burr (@ThomasWBurr) pointing to an empty chair while attending the Convention. The hashtag #Eastwooding[7] quickly took off after @RobertGehrke's tweet and generated more than 7,100 related tweets[8] within the first hour.

By noon the next day, there had been 25,325 tweets associated with the hashtag, including ones from celebrities like actor Zach Braff, actress Mia Farrow and comedian Hal Sparks Additionally, more than 850 Instagram photos were tagged #Eastwooding[9] and a tag with the same name[10] was created on Tumblr. At 12:34 am (ET), Buzzfeed[6] published a series of Eastwooding photos collected from Twitter and Instagram. By the next day, Eastwooding photos were featured on the Atlantic[12], the Huffingon Post[13], Gothamist[14], New York Daily News[15], Mashable[16] and Fox News.[17]

Notable Examples

Search Interest

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