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Clint Eastwood speaks out on RNC appearance, without empty chair

September 07, 2012|By Kathleen Hennessey

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Clint Eastwood says his widely panned improvisational bit at the Republican National Convention last week was conceived on the fly – just a few minutes before going on stage – and that he had promised Mitt Romney’s campaign only that he would say “nice” things about the candidate.

In an extensive interview with his hometown paper, the Carmel Pine Cone, Eastwood for the first time told his version of the strange back story behind his prime-time appearance, which involved the 82-year-old actor and director berating an imaginary, seated President Obama.

Talking to an empty chair was remarkable on many levels – not least for how it could have gotten approval from the GOP nominee's campaign.  But it didn't, Eastwood confirmed.

PHOTOS: Scenes from the RNC

“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 told the paper. He added that despite his extensive acting experience and his brief stint as mayor of Carmel, he doesn’t really “know how to” give a speech.

 Just hours before showtime, Eastwood didn’t have a plan for what he would say to the millions of people tuning in. He arrived in Tampa, Fla., took a nap at his hotel and started sketching an outline, he said. He arrived at the hall just “15 or 20 minutes” before he was slated to go on stage, he said. As he waited backstage, it came to him.

 “There was a stool there, and some fella kept asking me if I wanted to sit down,” Eastwood said. “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.”

The interview finds Eastwood still eager to share his frustration with the president he calls a “hoax.” And although “the lefties” have piled on with jibes, Eastwood said he is happy with his performance.

PHOTOS: Best of the Republican, Democratic conventions

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Twitter: @khennessey

kathleen.hennessey@latimes.com

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