LOS ANGELES (AP) — Clint Eastwood said the idea to use an empty seat as a prop at the Republican National Convention was a spur-of-the-moment decision when someone backstage asked if he wanted to sit down.
In his first interview since his Aug. 30 appearance at the convention to pledge support for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Eastwood told the Carmel Pine Cone that his speech was not only unscripted, it was pretty much spontaneous.
“There was a stool there, and some fella kept asking me if I wanted to sit down,” Eastwood told the weekly newspaper in the small California city where he once was mayor. “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.”
Eastwood’s peculiar, sometimes rambling conversation with an imaginary President Barack Obama in an empty chair set the blogosphere and social media ablaze. Reaction to his appearance generally has split along party lines, with Republicans raving about his stinging rebuke of Obama and Democrats ridiculing him as old, angry and out of touch.
The 82-year-old Eastwood said he set out to make three points and he achieved his goal.
“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,” Eastwood said in the interview, which was conducted Tuesday but not published until Friday. “But I didn’t make up my mind exactly what I was going to say until I said it.”
Political conventions normally are tightly scripted and Romney’s campaign aides had wanted details about what Eastwood planned to say.
“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.
Eastwood acknowledged his presentation was “very unorthodox” but said he knew that would be the case.
“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.”
Eastwood said he was told to speak for five minutes but he said it was difficult to gauge time and there weren’t any signals or cues telling him to wrap up. He ended up speaking for about 12 minutes.
Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, later came backstage to thank him.
“They were very enthusiastic, and we were all laughing,” Eastwood said.
Eastwood, who stars in the upcoming movie “Trouble with the Curve,” maintains Obama doesn’t deserve a second term as president.
“President Obama is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” Eastwood said. “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.”
Despite all the attention he received, Eastwood hadn’t granted any interviews since his speech. Even his longtime manager, Leonard Hirshan, told The Associated Press he was unaware Eastwood had spoken to the newspaper.
“You’re telling me something for the first time,” Hirshan said.
Hirshan stressed that as a manager, he wouldn’t necessarily know about Eastwood’s dealings with the media. The actor has no publicist.