AFSCME President Lee Saunders screamed at an empty chair he brought on stage with him. Then he kicked his “Eastwood” chair off stage in Charlotte at a speech in front of the Ohio delegation.
Lee Saunders (C) celebrates his victory on June 22, 2012, as the first African-American to be elected President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees at the union’s 40th International Convention in Los Angeles, California. (photo courtesy AFSCME)
It was a relatively quiet Labor Day breakfast here for Ohio’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention — scrambled eggs, oatmeal and boilerplate rallying cries from union leaders. Then came Lee Saunders.
Saunders shook awake those clearing the cobwebs after a late first night in town.
The Cleveland native and national AFSCME president took an empty chair on stage, so early on the audience was prepared for some Eastwooding, a riff on actor Clint Eastwood’s surprising performance at last week’s Republican National Convention.
“Are you ready to rumble?” Saunders roared by way of introduction.
After a speech filled with fiery anti-GOP rhetoric — he accused the Republicans of abandoning “all pretense of compassion” — he turned to the chair. Saunders had a brief conversation with an imaginary Eastwood. He closed by slamming GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan.
“So Dirty Harry, make my day,” Saunders continued, quoting the Eastwood character. “We’re gonna kick some ass in November.”
Then he kicked the chair. Loudly.