Clint Eastwood is explaining to a local paper in California the reasoning behind his sometimes-rambling conversation with an empty chair, meant to symbolize President Obama, at last week’s Republican National Convention
Eastwood told the Carmel Pine Cone, based in the town where he was mayor for two years in the 1980s, that he had decided his speech to the convention would be done off the cuff: “They vett 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.’”
Indeed, despite his long experience as a screen actor, Eastwood admits that he doesn’t really know how to give speeches. “It was supposed to be a contrast with all the scripted speeches, because I’m Joe Citizen,” Eastwood said. “I’m a movie maker, but I have the same feelings as the average guy out there.”
After a week of trying to figure out what his address would be about, Eastwood had only figured out by Thursday morning, the day of the speech, what the issue outline of the speech would be. It was then right before his appearance, when he was backstage and about to go on, that the inspiration hit.
“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.”
As he wrapped up his remarks, he was aware his presentation was “very unorthodox,” but that was his intent from the beginning, even if some people weren’t on board.
“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.”