Clint Eastwood only decided to use an empty chair as a prop for his Republican National Convention speech at the last minute.
And he refused to let Mitt Romney’s handlers know what he was going to say — because he didn’t know himself. All he promised was that he would be “nice” to the GOP candidate.
The Hollywood legend says, in his first interview since his headline-making speech, that Obama has pulled the wool over the eyes of the American public and described himself as "Joe Citizen" — a movie maker who has the same feelings as the average guy.
Eastwood spoke out for the first time since his Aug. 30 convention appearance, in an interview with his hometown weekly newspaper, the Carmel Pine Cone
. He was mayor of Carmel — a coastal city in northern California — for a single term in the late 1980s.
The idea to use the chair came to him as he waited in the green room before taking the stage, he said.
“There was a stool there, and some fella kept asking me if I wanted to sit down,” Eastwood told the paper. “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 told the paper that he asked a stagehand to take it 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 told the paper.
Early Thursday morning, as Eastwood left San Jose Airport on a private jet headed for Florida, he hadn’t made up his mind what he would say. And even with his appearance just a few hours away, all Eastwood could tell Romney’s campaign manager, Matt Rhoades, and his aides, according to the paper, was “to reassure them that everything I would say would be nice about Mitt Romney.”
After a nap in his hotel room, Eastwood mapped out his remarks — “starting with his observation about politics in Hollywood, then challenging the president about the failure of his economic policies, and wrapping up by telling the public ‘they don’t have to worship politicians, like they were royalty or something,’” the paper wrote.
“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.”
He told the Pine Cone that he was aware he stumbled a bit, but said, “that’s what happens when you don’t have a written-out speech.”
Eastwood said he planned his speech to be unorthodox. “It was supposed to be a contrast with all the scripted speeches, because I’m Joe Citizen,” Eastwood said. “I’m a movie maker, but I have the same feelings as the average guy out there.”
Romney aides were taken by surprise by the off-the-cuff performance. Eastwood, pretended to have conversation with Obama seated in the chair at his side.
“What do you mean,’Shut up?’” Eastwood asked the president at one stage. “What do you want me to tell Mr. Romney?”
“I can’t tell him that. He can’t do that to himself,” Eastwood said. “You’re getting as bad as Biden.”
Inside the Tampa convention hall, the crowd roared with delight, but the reaction has been mixed among television analysts and on Twitter.
Eastwood told the paper he wouldn’t allow Romney advisers to vet his remarks.
“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,’” he told the Pine Cone.
He told the newspaper that he doesn’t “know how to” give speeches, and hates using a teleprompter, but he said the crowd ate up” his speech, and he was pleased with his performance.
“They’ve got this crazy actor who’s 82 years old up there in a suit,” he told the paper. “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 made it clear his view of Obama has not changed since his convention appearance, calling him the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."
He added, "A lot of people are realizing they had the wool pulled over their eyes by Obama.
“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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