Jan 29, 2012 8 Comments ›› Pat Dollard
PENSACOLA, Fla.—The run-up to Florida’s Republican presidential primary has already been weird, thanks in part to an extended debate over whether there should be a colony on the moon. On Saturday, it got a little weirder.
Stumping at a seafood restaurant here along the Gulf coast, Mitt Romney picked up the endorsement of actor Jon Voight, the star of “Midnight Cowboy” who is perhaps best known these days as the father of actress Angelina Jolie. The actor has long been active in Republican politics, campaigning for Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign in 2008 and traveling with Mike Huckabee to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year.
Voight told the crowd he was backing Romney because he was “strong” and “honest.” He declared President Obama had “decided to follow his father’s footsteps and take us to socialism.”
The actor said Newt Gingrich “fell short” of being able to take on Obama. “We cannot afford another four years of rhetoric,” Voight said.
While Jolie’s name wasn’t mentioned on the stump, Romney did manage to sneak in a reference to the actress’s wild-child reputation.
Explaining to the audience that he wasn’t sure how to “chit chat with a famous actor” when he phoned Voight to ask for his support, Romney said he decided to talk about his kids.
“I started talking about my five boys,” the candidate explained. “I said, you know, it’s easier to raise boys than girls. Well, after a long pause, he says, ‘Tell me about it.’”
The line got a huge laugh from the crowd of several hundred people who turned out to see Romney stump with Voight, as well as Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Sen. John McCain, who entertained the crowd with his own stand-up routine while introducing Romney.
The Arizona senator, who trained as a pilot at the naval base in Pensacola, joked that the money he spent as a young bachelor in the city had single-handedly kept the city’s economy alive. And, in a repeat of a line he often repeated on the presidential campaign trail here four years ago, McCain joked about Zsa Zsa Gabor’s sex life.
Noting the other dignitaries on hand, McCain said, “I feel a bit like Zsa Zsa Gabor’s fifth husband. I know what I’m supposed to do, but I don’t know how to make it interesting.”
A few feet away, Romney let out an awkward giggle.
“I thought we only brought one actor and comedian here today,” Romney told McCain when it was his turn at the mic. “Gosh, that was quite a repartee there, senator. That was fabulous.”