“I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking: ‘What’s a movie tradesman doing out here? They’re all left-wingers out there!’ ” Eastwood told the convention hall audience Thursday. But there are indeed “conservative people, moderate people” in Hollywood, he said. They just “play it closer to the vest.”
Despite dabbling in politics for years — most notably as the nonpartisan mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif., from 1986 to 1988 — Eastwood’s evolving and hard-to-pin-down views have added to his superstar mystique. An occasional Republican voter who allies with many socially liberal causes, he has long resembled a screenwriter’s fantasy of the perfect square-jawed candidate, which may be why many fans project their beliefs onto him. His evocative but cryptic Chrysler ad that aired during this year’s Super Bowl was interpreted by many pundits as a celebration of the Obama auto-industry bailout — although Eastwood, in fact, opposed it.
In an interview with The Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday in November, Eastwood happily talked politics but made no pretense of being a wonk.
Many Hollywood types dabbling in advocacy love to show off their mastery of policy, but Eastwood (“I’ve never been a really astute political person”) uttered the simple hopes and gripes of your typical man-on-the-street interview.
“They all come up now and they all say the same thing,” he said of politicians, Republican and Democratic alike. “They tell you what they want to get in, and when they get in, they all do something different, so you get the futility aspect of it all.”
Although he endorsed Republican John McCain in 2008, Eastwood said he felt good about Obama’s election, at first. “I thought: ‘Well, that’s cool. . . . That’ll be nice for the country and maybe it’ll settle down a lot of racial issues.’ ” Instead, “it kind of went the other way,” he told Hornaday, citing his frustration with how Obama seemed to pick sides in the hot-button dispute when African American scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested by a white police officer in Cambridge, Mass. “Just a bad way to jump into it,” Eastwood said.
Romney didn’t seem to be on Eastwood’s agenda last fall. (“I liked that fellow from New Jersey, [Gov. Chris] Christie,” he told Hornaday.) It was just over a month ago that he approached the former Massachusetts governor’s campaign to express his support, and he got invited to a pair of Sun Valley, Idaho, events on Aug. 3.
“He didn’t act like a Hollywood star,” one guest said. The fundraiser, who was granted anonymity in order to speak candidly, noted that Eastwood had no entourage and made no demands. He posed for pictures with police officers and Secret Service agents and sat at a table eating dinner and conversing with other supporters.
“He really wowed both audiences in Sun Valley and could not have been more gracious to the attendees and to Mitt Romney and to the staff,” the fundraiser said.
As for the speech Thursday night, the fundraiser said, “I think the nature of Clint Eastwood is he is unpredictable.”