TAMPA, Fla. — Clint Eastwood did not go ahead and make lawyers' day.
On the biggest night of the Republican National Convention, the Dirty Harry actor took a swipe at the profession during a "surprise" prime-time speech that was unscripted and often rambling.
"See, I never thought it was a good idea for attorneys to be president, anyway," Eastwood said in a dig at President Barack Obama's education at Harvard Law School. The line drew applause and whistles from the crowd inside the convention hall, and the actor continued.
"I think attorneys are so busy — you know they're always taught to argue everything, always weigh everything, weigh both sides," Eastwood said. "They are always devil's advocating this and bifurcating this and bifurcating that. You know all that stuff. But, I think it is maybe time — what do you think — for maybe a businessman. How about that?"
The timing of the comments — arguably the most high-profile mention of the legal profession at the week-long convention — could not have been more bizarre. The convention's next speaker was Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a lawyer who earned a degree from the University of Miami School of Law.
And Eastwood forgot to note that like Obama, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney also has a law degree from Harvard.
What's more, Obama, the 44th president, is actually the 25th lawyer to hold the nation's highest office, including Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, according to a Wall Street Journal report from 2008.
Eastwood's speech also included a bit where he talked to an empty chair as if Obama were sitting in it, a type of gag first perfected by comedian Bob Newhart, who used a telephone.
That prompted Newhart to make a lawyer joke of his own on Twitter: "I heard that Clint Eastwood was channeling me at the RNC. My lawyers and I are drafting our lawsuit..."