Eastwood defends empty-chair speech, says Romney found it ‘quite funny’

Clint Eastwood stood by his widely-mocked appearance at the Republican national convention in a CNN interview Saturday and said GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney actually enjoyed it.

“He's got a much better sense of humor than people think,” the 82-year-old actor and director told CNN in his first televised interview since the convention. “He actually thought it was quite funny.”

Eastwood's improvised routine on the last night of the Tampa convention had him addressing an empty chair, pretending to ask questions of an invisible President Obama's. While well-received by many convention-goers, the unscripted appearance was roundly criticized as being bizarre and disrespectful.

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“What do you want me to tell Romney?” Eastwood said at one point in the act. "I can't tell him to do that to himself.”

Eastwood, who is promoting his new movie 'Trouble with the Curve,' told CNN he had no regrets.

“One advantage of being my age is that, you know, what can they do to you?" he said. "You just have fun and do what you think and then you can say what you think. You don't have to edit yourself."

He said he didn't intend to be disrespectful.

"I'm not being disrespectful,” he told CNN. “I mean nobody wants to sit and insult people. Unfortunately, that's the way politics is.”

He said his message was simply that voters should hold politicians to account and not “idolize” them.

“They're there to do a job for you,” he said. “I think there just needs to be more work done – actual work – and less talk."

Others have also said Romney enjoyed the act.

Campaign adviser Stuart Stevens told reporters traveling with the candidate the day after the speech "I was backstage with him and he was laughing.”

Conservatives sought to turn the much-ridiculed Eastwood speech into a positive, tweeting photos of empty chairs and messages criticizing Obama in the days after the address. 

In an interview earlier this month, Obama said he was not “offended” by the speech and praised Eastwood's career.

"I am a huge Clint Eastwood fan," Obama said. "He is a great actor, and an even better director. ... I think the last few movies that he's made have been terrific."


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