Exclusive Interview: Clint Eastwood on Politics and Real Estate

This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," February 7, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Now the man of the hour. We told you about Clint Eastwood. Of course, he's a big muckety-muck in these parts, because he actually owns a lot of this green behind me here. And he's made a great deal of green in his career, and Academy Awards and what have you.

Clint Eastwood, good to have you very much. Thank you, sir, very much for coming.


CAVUTO: I know you try not to make politics a big thing, but a big day in politics. John McCain's race is won. It looks like he's the Republican nominee.

What do you think of that?

EASTWOOD: Well, if that's the way it's supposed to go, that's — I like John McCain personally very much. I haven't gotten involved too much politically.

I have watched a little bit of the debates on both the Democrats and the Republican. And, so far, I have been kind of just hanging loose and watching a lot. But that is a surprise on Mit Romney dropping out. But it's an expensive deal, when you on Mitt Romney dropping out so soon.

But it's an expensive deal, when you think of the amount of money that these people are putting out...


EASTWOOD: ... and you — or you have to raise to run for office. It's an expensive deal, and it's expensive emotionally on the family and everything else to take that ride. I have only done it on a very small town level; 4,600 people was my...

CAVUTO: It worked for you.


CAVUTO: But you got elected mayor.


CAVUTO: Many people want to run you for president. But you're a libertarian by nature, aren't you? I mean, because you have criticized both parties in the past and both positions.

For example, you like this president. You're not a fan of the Iraq war. You were critical of Bill Clinton on trying to get tough on cigarette companies. So, in other words, you have been consistently sort of a thorn in the side of both parties.

EASTWOOD: Well, it's — you know, I started out in — my first voting was for Dwight Eisenhower in 1952. And the — so, I became a Republican then. And I always liked their kind of philosophy of less government, and watching the spending, and not spending more.

CAVUTO: Well, they veered from that.

EASTWOOD: But they have veered so far from it now...


EASTWOOD: ... that it's very hard not to be critical.

And, of course, both parties and both houses seem to be spending like drunken sailors at times. No offense to the Navy, of course.


EASTWOOD: But — and, you know, you can't — you can't spend without looking to the future and what it's going to do, what you're passing along to other generations.

And I know John McCain and other people have talked about that, holding down spending. And — well, we have got to do that. We're — every time there's an election now, everybody promises so many giveaways, that there's no possibility of holding it down, because, to get in office, you have to sit there and promise everybody something for nothing.

And that's an era that's different from where I grew up, where people felt, when you — when you got something, you worked for it.

CAVUTO: I have always thought, Clint, the winning candidate might be the unusual one who stands up and says, I'm not going to bring home bacon.


CAVUTO: You know, I'm not going to build a road or a bridge or a highway or any of that. I'm not going to do any of that.


CAVUTO: I guess that candidate wouldn't get far.

EASTWOOD: Yes. No, it wouldn't get too far, if you didn't build a bridge to nowhere or something.


EASTWOOD: But if you — but, yes, if just got up and were honest. But the people, the public has been so used to the B.S. factor that's out there, that it seems to be that's what everybody runs on.

CAVUTO: Have any of them tried to seek you out? I mean, that's the big thing these days, get a big actor or actress, a movie star, to say I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread. I'm sure they bang on your door.

EASTWOOD: Well, I — when I was mayor of Carmel some years ago, some people came to me and asked if I was — they thought I was sort of positioning myself to go for a Senate race or governor or something like that. But that isn't my idea of a good time.

CAVUTO: Did you ever entertain it, now knowing what Arnold Schwarzenegger was able to pull off?

EASTWOOD: No. No. And now, seeing how much work he has, I would less entertain it.


CAVUTO: All right, so, do you have a horse in the race right now?

EASTWOOD: Not — I'm just kind of watching. I'm just watching the horses and see which one.

But I have liked — John McCain has come out here and done some — gave a wonderful speech up at Tehama Club on the mine — my wife is interested in clearing mines out of Cambodia...

CAVUTO: Right. Right.

EASTWOOD: ... and that area. So — and so is his wife. And, so, he gave a wonderful speech on that. We like him very much.


CAVUTO: Did he ever ask you, then, you know, Clint, I could really use your support?

EASTWOOD: No, no, he never did. No, no, he's — he wasn't — in fact, I asked him then, are you thinking about running? And he just smiled.


EASTWOOD: And that was — that was the end of that. But now, of course, it's a different proposition.

CAVUTO: I was thinking, and knowing a little bit about your libertarian roots, Clint, whether they're kind of like Ron Paul, who kind of says, you know, you shouldn't tell people what they do in the privacy of their lives.

EASTWOOD: Exactly.

CAVUTO: The government shouldn't be entangling itself in foreign affairs ...


CAVUTO: ... as much as you have argued about Iraq.

He would seem to be of your liking.

EASTWOOD: Yes, I think — I have always advocated, if everybody would just leave everybody alone, instead of trying to manipulate everyone else's life — I know that's easier said than done. And the temptation politically is to get in and involve yourself with every last minutia that's — that people are involved with.

But it's not — it's not going to be that way for the time being, until things take — the pendulum is going to have to go all the way over to one side before that.

Ron Paul, he is. He's talking about fiscal responsibility. That certainly is something I like. But so is John McCain talking about, you know, don't — let's not spend more than we have. And...

CAVUTO: You know what's interesting, though, is that he obviously addressed this conservative in Washington group today, Clint, and he was essentially trying out for their love again.


CAVUTO: And this is a group he skipped last year. Conservatives in the party are suspicious of him.


CAVUTO: But now they seem to be resigning themselves — not everyone, but a lot of them...


CAVUTO: ... to the fact that he's the guy.

Now, Ann Coulter has been among those saying that, if he's the guy, she would sooner vote for Hillary Clinton. I don't know if that helps or hurts Hillary Clinton.


CAVUTO: But you see what I'm saying, that there are some — such feelings?

EASTWOOD: But Ann sort of makes her living on being au contraire.

I don't know. Conservatives, a lot of times, are very masochistic, and they will go for — they will say, well, I would rather not show up than to have so-and-so. If it isn't my guy, I would rather not show up.

But you can't be that way. And I certainly don't believe — I certainly don't agree with any of those candidates on a lot of the positions that they have taken. But you can't be a one-issue person. And I know all the talk shows are out there. The radio talk shows, anyway, are talking about — they're after McCain for not being conservative enough.

But, at some point, you have to say, OK, there's enough philosophy that is certainly closer than someone else on the other side.


CAVUTO: So, are you saying that the conservatives who take that position are being childish or...

EASTWOOD: Well, masochistic.


EASTWOOD: In other words, they would rather say, well, I stood back and I didn't — and we didn't win.

I — you know, certainly, John McCain deserves a certain respect for the amount of time and effort he's done for his country. And these — the talk shows that are going around, throwing out all the insults, can at least be genteel in their handling of all these people. They all deserve respect. And they deserve respect for getting out and running.

CAVUTO: It is a grueling process, isn't it?

EASTWOOD: It is grueling.

CAVUTO: Was it that grueling for you in Carmel?

EASTWOOD: I wouldn't do it with someone else's body.


CAVUTO: Let me get your sense of — we talked before, Clint, about Hollywood and its role in the election. Quite a few were kind of lining up with the candidates, say, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, who's not Hollywood anymore. He's the governor of the state. But he of course lined up behind McCain.


CAVUTO: You have Oprah Winfrey, who is lined up behind Barack Obama.


CAVUTO: Barbra Streisand, of course, for Hillary Clinton.

Does it help or hurt? You always stay out of thay process, but what do you think?

EASTWOOD: You know, I will probably jump in at some point.

But at — right — I don't know whether it helps or not. I think you can express your opinions. And people, if they like what you are and what you stand for, I — they might say, yes, I feel like he or she does. But, if you don't, you might say, well, that person's an idiot...


EASTWOOD: ... just like their candidate...


CAVUTO: And it reinforces the notion, right.

EASTWOOD: So, I don't know if it helps or hurts or not. It probably doesn't hurt in some areas.

CAVUTO: But many in Hollywood do feel compelled to step in the political waters, weigh in on a race, help a candidate. Should they?

EASTWOOD: Why not? Why not? You're an American citizen, you're just in another profession than maybe than someone else down the line, but you certainly have that right to express yourself. And why shouldn't you root for somebody?

CAVUTO: OK. But you haven't.

EASTWOOD: Like rooting for the New York Giants.

CAVUTO: Well, that's a good point.


CAVUTO: All right.

Let me step back and get a lay of the land. We have a writers strike going on right now.


CAVUTO: Every time it looks like we're close to getting this thing resolved, it's not resolved. Obviously, you — I think your movie is in the can with Angelina Jolie for the fall.

EASTWOOD: Yes. We're finished.

CAVUTO: But anything else affected that you're working on?

EASTWOOD: No, no, nothing with me personally.

I personal — I'm very, very hopeful that they will settle that strike, though, because there's so many people that have been put out of work on the periphery and other — in other crafts, that it's important they get it settled. But they — and I keep hearing rumors that they're on the road. You probably know more about it than me.

CAVUTO: Well, the only thing I hear is that the dividing line is, they want a chunk of future Internet revenues, I guess, not to get too boring here, but that's, you know, the gazillion dollar question. Will they?

But I — one thing I have noticed, Clint — and you're closer to this part of it than I will ever be, but that a lot of people who are very sympathetic and supportive of the writers ultimately went back to work. You know, Jay Leno had to go on with his show, and a lot of the talk shows went on with their thing. It's as if they said, look, we didn't know this thing would drag out so long.



CAVUTO: But we have got to...

EASTWOOD: They were thinking it's a two-week deal.

CAVUTO: Right. We have got to move on, right?

EASTWOOD: Well, Jay Leno was footing a big tab there.

CAVUTO: He was. He was.

EASTWOOD: And same with Letterman and all of them.

So, they all are probably figuring they can't put your staff completely out of work — and — because you're siding with an issue that maybe you don't even fully understand, is — it's a big commitment. And I know an awful lot of people that are supporting the writers and want them to have a good deal. And I do, too. What that deal is, I have no idea.

CAVUTO: Right.

I have talked to a lot of writers, Clint, as I have the movie studio heads, who have said that it's a battle between unlikable entities or unsympathetic characters, whether that's fair, with its billionaire studio heads going against millionaire writers. Is that fair?


EASTWOOD: I don't — I don't think that's fair. But — because I don't know how many writers are millionaires. A lot of them are in various stages of their careers.

CAVUTO: Right.

EASTWOOD: So, it's a tough — it's tough to make a statement like that.

But — and the studio guys, too, are — well, they're — they're just trying to do — everybody's trying to protect — they have — invest a lot of money in films. And, so, they want to get some return.

CAVUTO: You're being very diplomatic. You're not trashing either side, are you?


EASTWOOD: I can't trash either side. I work on both — with both of them.


CAVUTO: Let me ask you — and we're going to take a quick break and pay our bills — but to the issue of Americans paying their bills and this fear of a recession, do you think we're heading into a recession? Do you see it around you? What?

EASTWOOD: Not so far, I don't see it. But I think people are starting to tighten up. Nobody ever — when I grew up, and possibly when you grew up, too — I'm a couple of years your senior, but...

CAVUTO: Couple.

EASTWOOD: They had — everybody used cash. Everything was cash. And, if you had the money in your pocket, you could afford something. If you didn't, you didn't. But now, of course, with credit cards, people go out and they sign up for this.

CAVUTO: That's right.

EASTWOOD: And they — and they get way out of their — way behind their means there.

And, so, that...

CAVUTO: And that's what we're still working out now.

EASTWOOD: That's what working out now. And I think it's going to — it's kind of a big wakeup call for — for everyone.


Clint, we're going to take a quick break here. You know, last year at this time, we had the Anna Nicole thing break while you were here. We have gone through half the interview. Nothing like that yet.



CAVUTO: But we still have, what, 90 seconds?


CAVUTO: All right.

EASTWOOD: But, in that 90 seconds, I don't think we can do too much damage here.



CAVUTO: All right, back live from Pebble Beach, the golf tournament here.

Now, I bet you probably didn't know that about half of this beautiful golf course behind me, it is actually owned by Clint Eastwood. So, he's a pretty good, savvy real estate investor.

And that's why I'm asking you about real estate right now.

EASTWOOD: Yes. I would say you're exaggerating slightly.

CAVUTO: Are you worried?

EASTWOOD: It's not half. I'm part...

CAVUTO: You're part of a syndicate.

EASTWOOD: ... of a group that has bought into it, and bought it from a Japanese...


CAVUTO: Right. But you have made a tidy little profit, even with the downturn, right?


EASTWOOD: I think Pebble Beach is kind of a unique place on the planet. And I think it's — people will always want to come here and visit.

CAVUTO: But I have seen, just driving around here, Clint, a lot of for sale signs, certainly a lot more than last year when I was here.


EASTWOOD: Yes. Well, there's for sale signs everywhere.

And you started talking about the real estate market, and that's another thing we were hitting on earlier, is that people spending beyond their means. Some of the people that get financed into these things, getting in on some of these tracts in a valley, you get in through zero — for zero money.

And, somewhere along the line, somebody is going to ask for something, and then you're not going to be able to pay it.

CAVUTO: Do you think we should bail them out?

EASTWOOD: You know, there's two theories, of course, one, that we should, and the other is, why should we bail out people for making sort of a dumb mistake?

CAVUTO: Where do you stand?

EASTWOOD: I hate to see anybody sink. I hate to see anybody lose their dream, lose their home, something like that.

I — I hope bailing them out is the right thing to do. I would put it that way, that I hope it's the right thing to do. I hope it's not just going to take our interest rates down to the point where — where people who have their life — life savings in — sunk in bonds and things can't — start going the other way.

CAVUTO: Right.

EASTWOOD: And people who have managed themselves well take the penalty for the people who have been reckless.

But, at the same token, if the government is going to help anybody — and they probably help too much in the wrong areas and not in the right areas, maybe they could get these people. But, also, the education has to be out there that you just cannot spend more than you make.

CAVUTO: But who's the government to provide that education? They would be the biggest hypocrites, right?

EASTWOOD: They would be, yes. Our government, the way we're spending now, can't very well express that.

CAVUTO: How about politics for you again? I know you keep pooh-poohing it. You were mayor of Carmel, did a very good job. And everyone always asks you to run and do something. You always say no.

Are you still always saying no?

EASTWOOD: You know, I like my life the way it is, Neil. I have got — I had to go — after a couple of years as mayor, I went back to doing motion pictures. I did a few of them while I was mayor, but I went back to doing some films.

CAVUTO: You did OK.

EASTWOOD: And I enjoy...


EASTWOOD: Right now, I'm enjoying a very good time making the kind of projects I want.


EASTWOOD: And, so, I don't know why I would want to give that up.


CAVUTO: We were just tempting you, Clint.

EASTWOOD: Yes. No, no.

CAVUTO: Clint Eastwood, thank you very much.

EASTWOOD: No temptation there for me.

Thank you, Neil.

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