President Obama's ad-makers may have to pay royalties to Clint Eastwood after a remarkable two-minute Chrysler commercial that aired on the biggest of all stages - the Super Bowl - and gave a pretty good preview of what the president's reelection commercials might look like. At the very least, the ad and Eastwood's powerful narration make it much, much more difficult for Republican front-runner Mitt Romney to keep pushing his line that Washington should have let the automakers go into bankruptcy.
And don't think that Team Obama wasn't watching the Super Bowl along with millions of other Americans and immediately grasped the boost they could get from the commercial. White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer quickly tweeted "Saving the America auto industry: something Eminem and Clint Eastwood can agree on." Senior strategist David Axelrod tweeted "Powerful spot. Did Clint shoot that, or just narrate it?" Former White House aide Bill Burton tweeted, "Clinton Eastwood #winning."
Of course, this isn't the first time Eastwood has been identified with cars -- he starred in Pink Cadillac in 1989 and Gran Torino in 2008. But those weren't in the Super Bowl with a bigger audience than probably saw both those movies combined.
With 30 second spots selling for $3.5 million, the commercial cost Chrysler an estimated $14 million and was kept under wraps by the automaker, which, with the help of the Obama administration, has come back from the dead after being counted out in 2009. And one can only guess what the automaker paid Eastwood. Whatever, it was worth it for it was a master stroke. The 81-year-old actor has told interviewers he has always voted Republican for president, though he has endorsed some Democrats in California and has praised libertarians.
The commercial itself was reminiscent of Ronald Reagan's "Morning in America" commercials, though with the famous Clint Eastwood tough guy touch. Shown shortly after Madonna's halftime performance, it began with the silhouette of Eastwood, walking in the dark and recognizable only for his gravelly voice. "It's halftime. Both teams are in their locker room discussing what they can do to win this game," he says. "It's halftime in America, too." With scenes of an iconic front porch and a city skyline," he continues, "People are out of work and they are hurting. They are all wondering what they are going to do to make a comeback. And we're all scared because this isn't a game."
With more every day scenes flashing on the screen, Eastwood adds, "The people in Detroit know a little something about this. They almost lost everything. But we all pulled together. Now Motor City is fighting again." With the music punctuating his remarks, Eastwood goes on: "I've seen a lot of tough eras, a lot of downturns in my life. Times when we didn't understand each other. It seems that we've lost our heart at times. The fog of division, discord and blame, made it hard to see what lies ahead." As scenes of protesters give way to black and white photos of kids and firefighters, Eastwood builds, "But after those trials, we all rallied around what was right and acted as one. Because that's what we do. We find a way through tough times. If we can't find a way then we'll make one. All that matters now is what's ahead. How do we come from behind? How do we come together?
At this point, viewers see Eastwood in the light. "And how do we win? Detroit is showing us it can be done,. And what's true about them is true about all of us. This country can't be knocked out with one punch." To conclude, a close-up of Eastwood fills the screen. "We get right back up again and when we do the world is going to hear the roar of our engines. Yeah, its halftime America and our second half is about to begin."
All that was missing was him turning to Mitt Romney and challenging him to "make my day."