Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Ann Oldenburg, USA TODAY
What exactly was going through Clint Eastwood's mind when he decided to talk to an empty chair - invisible President Obama - at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, a pop culture political moment that has gone down in history?
But in a wide-ranging interview with The Carmel Pine Cone, his local California newspaper, conducted Tuesday at his home in Pebble Beach and published online today, the actor, 82, said his spontaneous remarks conveyed his message.
"I had three points I wanted to make," Eastwood said. "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."
Mitt Romney personally invited Eastwood to speak in August, according to Pine Cone publisher Paul Miller, who conducted the interview.
But the appearance was finalized only in the last week before the convention. And when Romney's camp asked the actor what he planned to say, "I told them, 'You can't do that with me, because I don't know what I'm going to say,'" Eastwood recalled, adding that he hates using a teleprompter, so he decided he wouldn't.
As he waited for his cue backstage, inspiration struck, writes Miller.
"There was a stool there, and some fella kept asking me if I wanted to sit down," Eastwood said. "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 says he felt it was going well. "The audience was super enthusiastic, and it's always great when they're with you instead of against you."
He also said he was aware he hesitated and stumbled a bit, but "that's what happens when you don't have a written-out speech."
Afteward, backstage, it was all congratulations and glad-handing, Eastwood tells Miller. And after the speeches were over, Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, came backstage to thank him.
"They were very enthusiastic, and we were all laughing," Eastwood said. When he went outside to his car, a large crowd cheered and chanted lines from his speech.
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