Clint Eastwood a boon or bust for Romney campaign?

Clint Eastwood
Actor Clint Eastwood gestures while speaking to delegates during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012.
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

(CBS News) When a campaign brings a Hollywood star to a political rally, it's supposed to boost the candidate. And while Clint Eastwood was met with applause when he spoke ahead of Mitt Romney on the final night of the GOP convention Thursday, pundits and strategists are wondering if it was an unnecessary sideshow, taking away from the candidate's message.

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After much speculation about a "mystery speaker," Eastwood took the stage, starting his remarks with a look back at President Obama's election in 2008.

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Eastwood said, "I just thought, 'This was great.' Everybody is crying, Oprah was crying. I was even crying."

But the remarks seemed to veer off script - if there was one - at the highly choreographed and carefully timed convention, such as when Eastwood engaged in a "conversation" with an empty chair representing the president.

CBS News' Bob Schieffer said he couldn't understand why the Romney campaign showcased Eastwood on Romney's night. "Why on your night of nights, when you're trying to tell your story to the American people would you give them something else to talk about?," he wondered during CBS News' convention coverage.

The Obama campaign immediately shot back on Twitter Thursday night with a photo of the president sitting in a chair in the White House. It read, referring to Eastwood's empty chair, "This seat's taken."

The Romney campaign said Eastwood's appearance was unscripted and ad libbed and it was a unique moment. In many ways, he was the anti-Romney on that stage.

(Pollster Frank Luntz, former Republican strategist, discussed Mitt Romney's speech at the Republican National Convention on "CBS This Morning." Watch his analysis in the video below)

Romney's first goal for his own speech Thursday was to tell voters his story - who he was and where he came from. To that end, he said at one point in his speech, "We were Mormons and growing up in Michigan; that might have seemed unusual or out of place but I really don't remember it that way. My friends cared more about what sports teams we followed than what church we went to."

He also tried to satisfy calls from some political insiders who urged the campaign to "humanize" the former governor and business executive, by mentioning how his parents' marriage lasted 64 years, and how his father, George, delivered gifts from the florist.

"Every day, dad gave mom a rose, which he put on her bedside table. That's how she found out what happened on the day my father died. She went looking for him because that morning, there was no rose," he said.

Romney was also direct in attacking the President Obama's rhetorical flourishes, saying, "President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family."

Watch Jan Crawford's full report in the video above.

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    Jan Crawford is CBS News' chief legal correspondent and based in Washington, D.C.