Clint Eastwood said he didn’t come up with the idea of using an empty chair to stand in for President Barack Obama during his remarks at the Republican National Convention until about one hour before he took the stage.
“There was a stool there, and some fella kept asking me if I wanted to sit down,” Eastwood told the Carmel Pine Cone in an interview published Friday. “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 said he asked a stagehand to put it out while he was being announced.
“The guy said, ‘You mean you want it at the podium?’ and I said, ‘No, just put it right there next to it,’” Eastwood said.
Calling the president “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” the 82-year-old Hollywood icon told the newspaper that “A lot of people are realizing they had the wool pulled over their eyes by Obama.”
“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,” he said.
Eastwood said he had three points he wanted to make during his speech.
“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,” he said. “But I didn’t make up my mind exactly what I was going to say until I said it.”
Eastwood said campaign officials had wanted to vet his remarks beforehand, but he told them that wasn’t possible.
“I told them, ‘You can’t do that with me, because I don’t know what I’m going to say,’” he said.
He said his appearance was meant to be a “contrast with all the scripted speeches.”
“I’m Joe Citizen,” Eastwood said. “I’m a movie maker, but I have the same feelings as the average guy out there.”
Eastwood said he knew as he was wrapping up that the speech had been “very unorthodox” — but that that was his intention. He said he wasn’t aware of any of the instant negative media reaction, and said both Romney and Ryan came up and thanked him afterward.
“They were very enthusiastic, and we were all laughing,” Eastwood said.