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Taylor Hicks: Not Easy Opening for Clint Eastwood & Mitt Romney

08/31/2012 at 02:05 PM EDT

Clint Eastwood Speech: Taylor Hicks on Opening for Him at RNC
Taylor Hicks
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Thursday night's performance at the Republican National Convention in Tampa was a first – and a tricky one – for American Idol singer Taylor Hicks.

He was opening for some very tough acts to follow: surprise guest speaker Clint Eastwood and presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

"I've worked many stages in my life, but never, ever have I had to weave in and out of a lectern," Hicks, 35, told PEOPLE while laughing and downing a draft beer at the bustling CNN Grill after the convention adjourned. "And the Teleprompter was definitely a stage hazard – having to dance with that thing."

Hicks, sporting an American flag scarf by John Varvatos, was actually coy about his own political party allegiance, saying only, "I'm gonna go old-fashioned and not disclose my vote."

But snapping celebrity photo-ops on his iPhone – including one in which Oscar winner Jon Voight had Hicks in a playful headlock, and another of the Soul Patrol singer backstage with Eastwood – did decidedly cast Hicks in the role of a fan.

Said the singer: "I never thought in a million years I would open for Clint Eastwood and Mitt Romney!"

The Democratic National Convention will be held next week in Charlotte, N.C.

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