Eastwood calls Republican speech "unorthodox," dismisses critics

Fri Sep 7, 2012 5:39pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Actor Clint Eastwood said he came up with idea for his "very unorthodox" speech at the Republican convention just hours ahead of time, and made a last-minute decision to cast an empty chair as an invisible President Barack Obama.

In his first public comments about the unscripted speech last week, the Oscar-winning actor and director said he had little public speaking experience but felt his improvized chat with the president -- which puzzled viewers and has become the brunt of jokes -- had accomplished his goals.

"I may have irritated a lot of the lefties, but I was aiming for people in the middle," Eastwood told the Carmel Pine Cone local newspaper for the coastal California town where he was mayor in the 1980s.

"They've got this crazy actor who's 82 years old up there in a suit," said the "Dirty Harry" star. "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."

"I don't know how to," he added.

Eastwood's conversation with an empty chair largely upstaged Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney's keynote speech at the convention, and triggered a satirical Twitter account for the chair that went viral.

Eastwood said he had been invited to appear at the convention by Romney after he endorsed the Republican at an August fundraiser in Idaho.

"It was supposed to be a contrast with all the scripted speeches because I am Joe Citizen. I am a movie maker, but I have the same feelings as the average guy out there," he said.

Eastwood said he got the idea to use the chair while waiting backstage at the Tampa, Florida, convention arena on Thursday last week.   Continued...

Actor Clint Eastwood addresses the final session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, August 30, 2012. REUTERS/Joe Skipper