Obama not offended by Clint Eastwood's convention antics

Some in the Romney camp, however, have privately cringed following the bizarre, rambling speech and empty-chair fiasco

It probably didn't make his day, but Barack Obama appears to harbour no grudge against Clint Eastwood for the actor's bizarre attack on him during the Republican National Convention.

In an interview with USA Today, the president diplomatically referred to the ageing Hollywood legend as a "great actor, and an even better director".

As to whether he had been offended by the 12-minute improvised address - during which Eastwood chastised an invisible Obama sat in an empty chair - the White House incumbent seemed to brush the incident aside.

"One thing about being president or running for president – if you're easily offended, you should probably choose another profession," he told the newspaper.

The use of Eastwood was intended to inject a bit of Hollywood glamour into the Republican National Convention in Tampa last week.

Instead, it left aides to presidential nominee Mitt Romney reportedly pointing fingers at each other as the blame game began over who authorised the shambling performance.

The appearance of the star of Dirty Harry had been nodded through by senior staff.
But according to an article Sunday in the New York Times, the actor ignored the time limit they set him.

The use of a chair as a prop was also reportedly sprung upon them at the last minute, by Eastwood himself.

"The prop person probably thought he was going to sit on it," the New York Times quotes a "baffled" Romney aide as saying.

During the actor's slot, an imaginary Obama was berated by Eastwood over the decision to go into Afghanistan, despite it being his predecessor George W Bush who sent troops into the conflict.

The 82-year-old star also alluded to imagined profanities uttered by the silent and invisible president.

"What do you want me to tell Romney?" he asked the empty chair, adding: "I can't tell him that. He can't do that to himself."

The crowd laughed, but behind the scenes, others cringed.

Putting on a brave face following the incident, the line coming out of many Republicans was that it was just Clint being Clint.

Ann Romney, whose own tribute at the convention to her husband Mitt was well-received, described Eastwood as a "unique guy" doing a "unique thing".

According to his interview with USA Today, it appears that Obama is erring against the idea of inviting a similarly loose cannon to address this week's Democratic National Convention.

"I think we'll be playing this pretty straight," he said.


Matt Williams in New York

The GuardianTramp

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