Chrysler Super Bowl commercial: Is Clint Eastwood a Democrat?

Clint Eastwood gave a rasping, powerful performance in a Chrysler Super Bowl commercial. But some saw a political message that favored Democrats.

Cliff Owen/AP
Democrat? Republican? It's a head scratcher. Actor and director Clint Eastwood shown here at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington in early February 2012.

Clint Eastwood’s Super Bowl commercial for Chrysler was, amid a sea of retread themes and less-than-inspiring plots (you’re so much better than this, Doritos) pretty awesome.

If you didn’t see the two-minute ad yet, it ran during halftime of last night’s Super Bowl and featured a darkened Clint Eastwood rasping that it’s “halftime in America. People are out of work and they’re hurting. And are all wondering what they’re going to do to make a comeback.”

“All that matters now,” Eastwood says in one particularly memorable line, “is what’s ahead. How do we come from behind? How do we come together? And how do we win? Detroit’s showing us it can be done.”

The ad’s political overtones were obvious - Detroit got back on its feet after being bailed out by the federal government, something Barack Obama instituted and something Mitt Romney opposed.

White House Communication Director Dan Pfeiffer tweeted almost immediately afterward, leading ESPN hoops super analyst Seth Davis to query Pfeiffer about the spot:

Dan Pfeiffer @pfeiffer44    5 Feb 12

Saving the America Auto Industry: Something Eminem and Clint Eastwood can agree on

Seth Davis @SethDavisHoops

@pfeiffer44 Did Clint just cut a re-elect spot for your boss?

Of course, Pfeiffer was referring to last year’s totally awesome Chrysler ad featuring Eminem and iconic scenes from Detroit.

Obama strategist David Axelrod was likewise fired up, and tweeted:

David Axelrod @davidaxelrod

Powerful spot. Did Clint shoot that, or just narrate it?

The Obama campaign has denied having anything to do with the ad and Chrysler has said “the ad speaks for itself” in this Reuters piece.

While Eminem said he would vote for Obama, Eastwood - one of the most iconic tough guys of the silver screen - is a little more complex.

But what are Clint Eastwood’s politics? That’s a bit more complex. Eastwood - unlike fellow Hollywood testosterone posterboy Charlton Heston, a staunch Republican - has a mixed history. He’s supported gay marriage and voted for former Democratic California Gov. Gray Davis, for example, but supported Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) in the 2008 election.

When Eastwood ran for mayor of what might be called a “1% hamlet” of Carmel-by-the-sea, California, he was elected as a Republican. And that was good enough for President George H.W. Bush to consider him as a potential vice presidential pick - yes, you read that right - during his ultimately unsuccessful 1992 reelection campaign.

In other words, the simplest answer to the question of Clint Eastwood’s current political persuasion is probably the best: he got paid by Chrysler, a deeply red-blooded American company, and did the spot.

But that hardly seems to matter, given the hard-hitting commercial and its deeply political subject. As National Journal’s George Condon writes, “All that was missing was him turning to Mitt Romney and challenging him to ‘make my day.’"

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