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By David Jackson, USA TODAY

Clint Eastwood isn't apologizing for his "empty chair" performance last week, and is stepping up his criticism of President Obama.

"President Obama is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people," Eastwood told his hometown paper, the Carmel, California, Pine Cone this week.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan "would do a much better job running the country, and that's what everybody needs to know," Eastwood said.

As for his performance at last week's Republican convention in Tampa, Eastwood said: "I may have irritated a lot of the lefties, but I was aiming for people in the middle."

More from the Eastwood interview:

For five days after he thrilled or horrified the nation by talking to an empty chair representing Obama on the night Mitt Romney accepted the Republican nomination for president, Eastwood remained silent while pundits and critics debated whether his remarks, and the rambling way he made them, had helped or hurt Romney's chances of winning in November.

But in a wide-ranging interview with The Pine Cone Tuesday from his home in Pebble Beach, he said he had conveyed the messages he wanted to convey, and that the spontaneous nature of his presentation was intentional, too.

"I had three points I wanted to make," Eastwood said. "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."

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