AFTER A week as topic No. 1 in American politics, former Carmel Mayor Clint Eastwood said the outpouring of criticism from left-wing reporters and liberal politicians after his appearance at the Republican National Convention last Thursday night, followed by an avalanche of support on Twitter and in the blogosphere, is all the proof anybody needs that his 12-minute discourse achieved exactly what he intended it to.
“President Obama is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” Eastwood told The Pine Cone this week. “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.”
Breaking his silence
For five days after he thrilled or horrified the nation by talking to an empty chair representing Obama on the night Mitt Romney accepted the Republican nomination for president, Eastwood remained silent while pundits and critics debated whether his remarks, and the rambling way he made them, had helped or hurt Romney’s chances of winning in November.
But in a wide-ranging interview with The Pine Cone Tuesday from his home in Pebble Beach, he said he had conveyed the messages he wanted to convey, and that the spontaneous nature of his presentation was intentional, too.
“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.”
Eastwood’s appearance at the convention came after a personal request from Romney in August, soon after Eastwood endorsed the former Massachusetts governor at a fundraiser in Sun Valley, Idaho. But it was finalized only in the last week before the convention, along with an agreement to build suspense by keeping it secret until the last moment.
Meanwhile, Romney’s campaign aides asked for details about what Eastwood would say to the convention.
“They vett 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 recalled.
And while the Hollywood superstar has plenty of experience being adored by crowds, he said he hasn’t given a lot of speeches and admitted that, “I really don’t know how to.” He also hates using a teleprompter, so it was settled in his mind that when he spoke to the 10,000 people in the convention hall, and the millions more watching on television, he would do it extemporaneously.
“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.”
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