Clint Eastwood says he achieved what he wanted to when he delivered an off-the-cuff speech at the Republican National Convention last week, in which he spoke to an empty chair that was supposed to represent U.S. President Barack Obama.
Eastwood's speech was widely criticized on social media and in media coverage of the convention's final night, during which Republican challenger Mitt Romney accepted his party's presidential nomination.
But in an interview published Friday in Eastwood's hometown newspaper, the actor and director said his speech accomplished what he intended, even though he didn't know what he was going to say until he at the podium in Tampa Bay, Fla.
"I had three points I wanted to make," Eastwood, 82, told The Carmel Pine newspaper: "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."
Romney's campaign aides had requested details about the content of Eastwood's speech, but he said he gave them few details.
"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 was quoted as saying.
The iconic star of Dirty Harry and the Oscar-winning director of Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby was a surprise speaker at the convention. He lauded Romney as the best presidential candidate, and criticized Obama for failing to turn the economy around and for wanting to close the Guantanamo Bay prison for terrorist suspects.
"When somebody does not do the job, you've got to let 'em go," Eastwood said to cheers from thousands of delegates packed into the convention hall on August 30.
'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."'—Clint Eastwood
But his peculiar, sometimes rambling conversation with an imaginary Obama set social media ablaze and arguably stole the spotlight from Romney's acceptance speech.
The White House even weighed in via Twitter, posting a photo of Obama sitting in the presidential chair with the caption: "This seat's taken."
Eastwood hadn't spoken publicly about his speech until he granted a 75-minute phone interview to Paul Miller, the owner and published of The Carmel Pine, on Tuesday.
"He's just a local newsmaker and a good source for our paper, and has been lots of times," Miller told CBCNews.ca by phone on Friday.
The newspaper is located in Pacific Grove, Ca., a short drive from Pebble Beach, where Eastwood lives.
Miller said he was surprised that media coverage didn't focus more on how Eastwood's empty-chair speech might affect voters in swing states, as the Republican and Democratic presidential campaigns kick in to high gear ahead of the Nov. 6 election.
"On the internet, people spoke out and said 'way to go Clint,'" Miller said. "That was what interested me."