October 16th, 2008
10:19 PM ET
10 years ago

'I screwed up,' McCain tells Letterman

McCain greets cameras before going in for a taping on Letterman Thursday.

McCain greets cameras before going in for a taping on Letterman Thursday.

(CNN) - John McCain has learned his lesson: Don't ever cancel on David Letterman.

Appearing on the late night comedian's show Thursday, the Republican presidential candidate apologized for skipping out on a scheduled visit late last month that Letterman later made the subject of an ongoing joke.

"I screwed up," McCain told Letterman more than once in the interview that's set to air Thursday night.

McCain's appearance on the show comes three weeks to the day after after he raised the ire of the generally mild-mannered host by canceling at the last minute, citing his decision to suspend his presidential campaign because of the financial crisis.

"This doesn't smell right," Letterman said then, during a routine that only half appeared to be a joke. "This is not the way a tested hero behaves. Somebody's putting something in his Metamucil."

Letterman also didn't appear to buy the Arizona senator's explanation for the cancellation then, showing the audience a live feed of McCain preparing for an interview with CBS anchor Katie Couric. After praising McCain's record as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, he said, "This is not the John McCain I know, by God."

Letterman has repeatedly harped on McCain for the missed appearance, noting the Arizona senator's poll numbers appeared to begin to slide right after he skipped out on the show.

"Look at all the conversation I gave you. Including having Mr. Olbermann on," McCain told Letterman Thursday night, referencing the MSNBC liberal talk show host who filled in for him that night.

But Thursday's interview was not all fun and games, as Letterman pressed McCain on Republican VP Sarah Palin's preparedness to lead the country through "the next 9/11 attack.."

"Absolutely" she is, McCain said. "She has inspired Americans. That's the thing we need."

Filed under: Extra • John McCain
soundoff (643 Responses)
  1. mary, colorado springs co

    He screwed up alright, when he chose the Alaskan Prom Queen to run as his VP, making his mental capacity suspect, questionable for running the country himself. To quote a wise woman, "No way, no how, no McCain, no Palin."

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2008

    October 16, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  2. Sarah- ARIZONA

    Mcain is so full of crap. he knows he has NOT put this country first by picking Palin. He is in denial. Shame on him.

    Democrats...work hard. its not over yet anything can happen. mcain and his fellow republicans that have put this country into a ditch are going out on a phone banking war and spreading LIES.

    October 16, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  3. AMAforObama

    Has Palin been to Columbia?

    October 16, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  4. Maggie

    Think about it- if any of us behaved the way Sarah and John have in an interview, we would never get the job. My interviewer doesn't care if he or she wants to have a beer with me- they want to know my skills and intelligence. Stop dumbing down America!

    October 16, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  5. diamond965

    To all the ignorants who feel that Obama shouldn't be able to work in McDonalds. Are you jealous or just ignorant, Obama is an intelligent man who has received an education from one of the most preticious university in the world. He is known to be running one of the finest campaigns both strategically and financially in American history. So, when you criticize him, you just show how ignorant you are. You can differ on his views, but degrading his intellect just shows how stupid you really are.

    October 16, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  6. Renae

    Give me 3 examples of Obama's policies you like and why, 2 examples of legislation he's authored, an example of anything he's lead – city, state, business, military unit. Show me what he's accomplished to be qualified.

    My son gets an A, his friend gets a C-. Let's take away their grades and give everyone a B. That's fair right? They all deserve to spread the success. Welcome to tax plan per Obama. It's not his money to spread!

    October 16, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  7. Betsy

    McCain said he faced angry people and broke in Vietnam.
    This time, he is his own enemy. I still like him, but really
    dislike all the negative ads on TV he approved. He was
    attacked by Bush the same way. He is screwed up big
    by his advisers. Sad, indeed. A hero is broken, repeatedly,
    by his own party and people.

    October 16, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |

    Also lieberman said mccain on road to victory. that must be the road to the bridge to no where. please. dream on.

    October 16, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  9. omar the plumber

    Don't discredit Obama as an idiot. He is a book smart educated man. No experience to be president.

    An educated idiot. ! 🙂

    October 16, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  10. soccer moms for obama

    sarah isn't even ready to take on her family.
    she is a terrible mom. just look at her.
    her kids are all dropouts.

    she isn't ready for anything.

    October 16, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  11. CMR

    Obama should change his name to Robin Hood!!!

    October 16, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  12. NC for Obama

    McCain has done nothing but "screw up" his whole campaign. It started on a huge downhill slide with the unbelievably stupid choice of Palin for a VP candidate. His nasty smear campaigns sealed his fate as a loser and just an angry, unfit old man.

    October 16, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  13. Erik

    This man still maintains Sarah Palin is qualified to lead this fine nation???

    October 16, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  14. JFK

    Really John? We figured this out quite a while ago! Thanks for the entertaining debate, you huffed and puffed your way through last night and absolutely said nothing intelligent.

    October 16, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  15. jeff

    yes we need someone who will inspire incendiary remarks from the audience. That's what we need alright.

    October 16, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  16. Phil

    If Dondald Trump say's he believes Palin can handle the economy then thats enough for me. Donald hit the nail on the coffin when he stated that DC experience is what got us in the mess we are in. Maybe its time we have less experience and more moral character and good judgement. I think America needs to lay off Palin and give her a chance. Its easy to be critical when we all have an audience perspective! We have no right to judge. If America wants to disagree, fine, but do it in a respectful manner! Grow up America and get out of this High School lets mock and tear down the new girl mentality. We are better than that!

    October 16, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  17. Sambo Jankens

    John McCain is a fascist!!! He wants to reincarnate Hitler from a testube that has his DNA!!!

    October 16, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  18. Harold from Connecticut

    Why is Senator McCain pandering to Letterman? Who is David Letterman in the scheme of things? PS: He is not funny at all!

    For those who are questioning Sarah Palin's experience, I have news for you–Senator Obama has less experience and the question is whether he has the experience to be president. I'll take Sarah anyday.

    October 16, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  19. royce d louy

    In the unlikely event that the republicicans should win i am prepared to move to Canada or Mexico who gladly embrace you as a human being not another tax collection
    How low in the barrel do the republicans need to go for candidates and sleazy dirty tricks (Pure signs of desparation)

    October 16, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  20. Shyrose , Canada

    Shiloh WA, I am just as surprised as you are. This old egomaniac has the audacity to criticize Canada. I agree that America is a great Country to live in but so is Canada. He is a pathetic old man looking to lead America into Hell. I feel for all the people who have no medicare. My own family members live in America and I know what a struggle it is to get Insurance over there. Not to mention the Doctors love to bleed their patients because they are not regulated. I hope he never sees a day in the white house with his Bimbo running mate. He is so senile that he can't even tell the difference between autism and Down Syndrome. I am surprised noone has corrected him on national TV yet. Sarah Palin and a commander in chief, God help America and the rest of the world.

    October 16, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  21. Luke NC

    Its all over for you my friend. You have squandered the reputation and good will generated over the last quarter of the century by your service to the nation. Perhaps it would bode to introspect about how Karl Rove lost both elections for you (2000, 2008).

    October 16, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  22. jjazznola

    I'M NOT A RACIST said about Obama " it's because he's an idiot". I may or may not vote for him but to call him an idiot? He is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School and has taught constitutional law. An idiot? What about Sarah Palin? And what about the guy who picked her?

    October 16, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  23. pen

    last night's debate was an insult to women period. mccain's so called "women's health" is so demeaning and that sarah palin is as dumb as he is. he is out of his skull.........and she doesn't think that is demeaning. she inspired a lot of IDIOTS who are closed-minded.

    October 16, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  24. William M. Hansen

    McMain must be out of his mind, his pick for Vice President can't run a Hot Dog stand, God help us all if either of win, their like dumb and dumber. Bill

    October 16, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  25. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    I screwed up...making a list!

    October 16, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
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