By Justin Sink
Clint Eastwood granted his first interview after his much-discussed appearance at the Republican National Convention and said he believed his speech helped Mitt Romney despite the mocking response of Democrats.
“President Obama is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” Eastwood told the Carmel, Calif., Pine Cone in an interview. “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.”
Eastwood told the newspaper in Carmel, where he used to serve as mayor, that he came up with his now infamous "empty chair" routine just minutes before going on stage.
The movie icon said that while Romney's campaign had asked for details about his speech, he told aides he would be improvising.
“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.
“It was supposed to be a contrast with all the scripted speeches, because I’m Joe Citizen,” the actor continued. “I’m a movie maker, but I have the same feelings as the average guy out there.”
Eastwood acknowledged that the speech was "very unorthodox," but noted it was warmly received by the convention audience.
“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.”
If nothing else, Eastwood's speech provided one of the most memorable moments of either convention, with social media and late-night television shows continuing to joke about the "empty chair."
On Thursday at the Democratic National Convention, singer James Taylor riffed on Eastwood's remarks.
Walking to a stool on stage, Taylor said, "I know it's an empty chair. It makes you nervous. I'm just going to sit on it."
"I’ve got to say. I don’t get it. I mean, I’m an old white guy. And I love Barack Obama," he added later, in another apparent reference to Eastwood.