Clint Eastwood is setting the record straight about his improbably controversial Chrysler ad that aired on Sunday's Super Bowl.
The "Gran Torino" director went on the defensive Monday, dismissing suggestions that the ad is a partisan love letter to President Obama.
Speaking to Ron Mitchell, a producer at Fox news Channel's "The O"Reilly Factor," Eastwood asserted, "I am certainly not politically affiliated with Mr. Obama. It was meant to be a message … just about job growth and the spirit of America. I think all politicians will agree with it."
Eastwood, who served as mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, in the 1980s, added that he is "not supporting any politician at this time" but noted that, if Obama or any other politician "want to run with the spirit of that ad, go for it."
In the ad — dubbed "Halftime in America" — Eastwood extols the resiliency of the American spirit — as exemplified by the auto industry's efforts to bounce back from its financial woes.
“This country can’t be knocked out with one punch, we get right back up again," Eastwood growls in the ad.
This was somehow interpreted by some — notably among them, former Bush administration senior adviser Karl Rove — as a show of support for President Barack Obama and the auto-industry bailout.
Declaring himself "offended" by the ad during a Fox News segment, Rove opined that the ad was "a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics."
“I was, frankly, offended by it,” Rove said. “I’m a huge fan of Clint Eastwood, I thought it was an extremely well-done ad, but it is a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics, and the president of the United States and his political minions are, in essence, using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising and the best-wishes of the management which is benefited by getting a bunch of our money that they’ll never pay back.”
Rove also suggested that Chrysler, et al, "feel the need to do something to repay their political patrons."
Eastwood's manager, Leonard Hirshan, was also dismissive of Rove and company's claim, telling New York magazine, "He rewrote it to make it suit his needs … People have to understand that what he was doing was saying to America, ‘Get yourselves together – all of you – and make this a second half.’ It's not a political thing.”