'It was supposed to contrast all the scripted speeches': Clint Eastwood explains THAT empty chair (and admits he ad libbed it all)
An unrepentant Clint Eastwood has struck back at the critics who mocked him for his performance at the Republican convention and declared that he was hoping to provoke exactly such a reaction.
'President Obama is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,' he told his local newspaper in California, The Carmel Pine Cone.
'Romney and Ryan would do a much better job running the country, and that’s what everybody needs to know. I may have irritated a lot of the Lefties, but I was aiming for people in the middle.'
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Clint Eastwood has struck back at the critics who mocked him for interviewing an empty chair at the RNC. 'I may have irritated a lot of the Lefties, but I was aiming for people in the middle'
The 82-year-old star of 'Dirty Harry' and 'The Good, the Bad and Ugly' maintained his silence for nearly a week after his improvised 12-minute appearance in Tampa which he addressed an empty chair was lampooned and derided.
Speaking at his home to the Carmel Pine Cone's Paul Miller, however, Eastwood said that it was all intentional. '“I had three points I wanted to make - that not everybody in Hollywood is on the Left, that Obama has broken a lot of the promises he made when he took office, and that the people should feel free to get rid of any politician who’s not doing a good job.
'But I didn’t make up my mind exactly what I was going to say until I said it.
Eastwood agreed to appear at the convention after a personal request from Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, shortly after the actor endorsed him at a fundraiser in Sun Valley, Idaho.
It was only finalised, however, only in the week before the convention, when it was agree to build suspense by keeping it secret until the last moment.
Romney aides asked for details about what Eastwood would say to the convention but the actor demurred. 'They vet most of the people, but I told them, "You can’t do that with me, because I don’t know what I’m going to say",’ Eastwood said.
He conceded that he had given few speeches and 'I really don’t know how to'. In addition, he did not want to use a teleprompter and so elected to speak off the cuff.
'It was supposed to be a contrast with all the scripted speeches, because I’m Joe Citizen,' he said. 'I’m a movie maker, but I have the same feelings as the average guy out there.”
Eastwood says he is a liberal on social issues such as abortion rights and gay marriage but is a strong fiscal conservative. 'Even people on the liberal side are starting to worry about going off a fiscal cliff,' he said.
The actor and director said there was no shortage of tips about what to say. 'Everybody had advice for me, except the janitor.'
Eastwood blasted the administration in an interview with his local paper, saying 'President Obama is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people'
He was still deciding on how to play things as he left San Jose Airport on a private jet bound for Florida. Eastwood said that all he could do for Romney’s campaign manager Matt Rhoades and his aides was 'to reassure them that everything I would say would be nice about Mitt Romney'.
Eastwood had a quick nap in his hotel room a few blocks from the convention site and then sketched out his remarks. He said he decided to start with an observation about politics in Hollywood, then challenge President Barack Obama about the failure of his economic policies before concluding by telling voters that 'they don’t have to worship politicians, like they were royalty or something'.
Even an hour before appearing, he still hadn't come up with the idea of using an empty chair with an imaginary Obama sitting in it..
'I got to the convention site just 15 or 20 minutes before I was scheduled to go on,' he said. 'That was fine, because everything was very well organised.'
He was taken to a Green Room, where Archbishop Dolan of New York dropped by to introduce himself. It was then that the empty chair notion seized him.
'There was a stool there, and some fellow kept asking me if I wanted to sit down,' he recalled. 'When I saw the stool sitting there, it gave me the idea. I’ll just put the stool out there and I’ll talk to Mr. Obama and ask him why he didn’t keep all of the promises he made to everybody.'
He asked a helper to take the chair out to the lectern while he was being announced. 'The guy said, "You mean you want it at the podium?’"and I said, "No, just put it right there next to it".'
Eastwood knew the crowd was behind him. 'The audience was super enthusiastic, and it’s always great when they’re with you instead of against you,' he said. 'They really seemed to be enjoying themselves.'
Eastwood had initially been told he was told he should peak for six or seven minutes, and just before he went on he was asked to limit it to five. But Eastwood said that 'when people are applauding so much, it takes you 10 minutes to say five minutes’ worth' and 'when you’re out there, it’s kind of hard to tell how much time is going by'.
He said he was aware that he hesitated and stumbled a fair amount but 'that’s what happens when you don’t have a written-out speech'.
Eastwood admitted that his appearance was 'very unorthodox' but that was exactly what he wanted to do.
'They’ve got this crazy actor who’s 82 years old up there in a suit,' he said. 'I was a mayor, and they’re probably thinking I know how to give a speech, but even when I was mayor I never gave speeches. I gave talks.'
In stark contrast to the pundits, the reaction from the Romney campaign was very positive. 'They were very enthusiastic, and we were all laughing,' he said.
Eastwood had a room service dinner in his hotel and then went to bed. The following morning, he got up early and went to the airport blissfully unaware that his appearance was the talk of the nation.
'I read the Tampa newspaper, and every article said something negative about the convention, but there wasn’t much about me,' he said.
Eastwood said the commentators and reporters who have lambasted his performance 'are obviously on the Left' and that most Americans were preoccupied with the economy, not a movie star's appearance at a political gathering.
'A lot of people are realising they had the wool pulled over their eyes by Obama.'
VIDEO: Clint Eastwood interviews an empty chair during bizarre RNC address
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