Obama Still 'a Huge Clint Eastwood Fan' After Ribbing

President Barack Obama says the ribbing Clint Eastwood gave him at the Republican National Convention last week doesn't mean he won't watch his movies.

"I am a huge Clint Eastwood fan," the president said in an interview excerpt released today.

"He is a great actor, and an even better director," he continued. "I think the last few movies that he's made have been terrific."

USA Today asked the president about Eastwood's participation at the GOP convention while Obama was traveling to Iowa on Saturday. The interview will be fully released on the publication's website Monday and in print Tuesday.

Eastwood was a much-hyped mystery speaker at the three-day long event, rousing the crowd in a 12-minute oratory that included a satirical "interview" with Obama, in the form of an empty chair. The president said he didn't hold a grudge against the blunt performance, which some considered borderline vulgar.

"One thing about being president or running for president - if you're easily offended, you should probably choose another profession," the president said.

Obama said not to expect any similar acts at the upcoming Democratic convention this week in North Carolina.

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

Most of the president's surrogates on this morning's political talk shows largely reflected his stance, with few directly criticizing the Hollywood legend. On ABC's "This Week," senior adviser David Plouffe said, "We're all Clint Eastwood fans here in the Obama campaign."

"The president, myself, we all, I think, everyone in America thinks he's been an amazing actor and director and an American treasure," he told George Stephanopoulos. "I do think the Romney campaign would probably not, three days after their convention, still having questions raised about Clint Eastwood. So you'll have to ask them how that all went down."

Senior Republicans are quietly perplexed with the performance. And in a video montage of the convention released today Eastwood is noticeably left out of the clipreel.

Regardless, on NBC's "Meet the Press" this morning former candidate Newt Gingrich said it was "one level of fun," but also "almost irrelevant."

"It provides lots of fodder," he said. "On the other hand, if you're Mitt Romney and your choice is to have 'Saturday Night Live' decide to pick on Clint Eastwood or pick on you, I think I'd give them Clint Eastwood for every night for the rest of the campaign."