Clint Eastwood defends his RNC speech

Actor Clint Eastwood speaks to an empty chair while addressing delegates during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012.
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
Clint Eastwood
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

(CBS News) Clint Eastwood left many people quizzically scratching their heads after he delivered an unusual, clearly unscripted speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa last week, but the actor says his speech wasn't directly at the largely liberal crowd that has ridiculed his performance.

"I may have irritated a lot of the lefties, but I was aiming for people in the middle," Eastwood said in an interview with his local newspaper in Carmel, Calif., The Pine Cone. "President Obama is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people. Romney and Ryan would do a much better job running the country, and that's what everybody needs to know."

Eastwood attracted the most attention for talking to an empty chair on stage during his speech, pretending that he was having a conversation with President Obama.

Eastwood told The Pine Cone that it only occurred to him to use the chair just minutes before his speech, when he was waiting backstage.

"There was a stool there, and some fella kept asking me if I wanted to sit down," he 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."

Eastwood acknowledged his remarks were "very unorthodox," but he told The Pine Cone that was his intent.

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

The actor said he wanted his unscripted remarks to serve as a contrast to all the prepared speeches from politicians. "I'm a movie maker, but I have the same feelings as the average guy out there," he said.

Addressing speculation that the 82-year-old Eastwood could be going senile, The Pine Cone notes that the distinguished Hollywood veteran is still starring in and directing movies. According to The Pine Cone, "To locals who know him, the idea that he is uninformed or senile is laughable."