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. Obama Mama

    To I'm Not A Racist:

    I agree on one point, just because someone is voting for McCain doesn't mean they are racist. But stating that Barack Obama is not qualified to work at McDonalds?? Are you kidding me? Obama is a Harvard educated Constitutional Scholar! What do you do for a living? Perhaps you work at McDonald's which then makes you the authority on someone's ability to ask, "Do you want fries with that?" No, now that I think about it, people working fast food certainly have more sense than the statement you made. Maybe making statements like that is why people mistake you for a racist.

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 16, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  2. Roger Johnson

    With the economy being the way it is, the LAST thing we need is an inexperienced apprentice like Obama leading the country. Think about it. What qualifies him to be an expert in the economy? HE HAS NOT LED ANYTHING HIS WHOLE LIFE. What makes people think he will do great the FIRST TIME he leads anything? He does not even read the bills he votes for in congress. I mean, seriously people. Having a liberal spender as president when we do not have the money to spend, and having an equally liberal congress is going to destroy the little that is left of this country; that will be a DISASTER.

    October 16, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  3. alpha_nu_916





    October 16, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  4. Nevada MOM

    McCain said. "She has inspired Americans. That's the thing we need."

    Really? I thought McCain said all of Senator Obama's inspiring speeches were platitudes.
    I thought you said that the way Americans have been inspired by Obama was cultish and that he was using celebrity to win the hearts of Americans.

    The rules never apply to you, do they, Senator McCain? You, my friend, have turned into a jerk and a joke.

    October 16, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  5. The Sanguine

    Hey "I'm not a racist" – maybe you should spell check your post before you start calling other people idiots. Kind of kills your point, don't you think?

    October 16, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  6. Obama/Biden 08

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

    By that logic, McCain should be supporting Obama. Obama has inspired many more people than Sarah Palin has.

    October 16, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  7. David Newport, OR

    Keep talking McCain...the more you talk, the more your polls drop.

    October 16, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  8. Marie Thomas

    He screwed up big time with his condensending remark about Canada at the debate, too. How would you like to live in Canada or England, he asked, in regard to medical insurance ? Sorry Senator McCain, get your fact straight because in Canada we have the best health insurance and care and if paid by our goverment.

    What a joke when Senator McCAin say that Governor Palin could be President....Yuk


    October 16, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  9. People are amusing.

    Wow, look at all these idiots posting here, blaring out anti-McCain slogans that have nothing to do with the article they are commenting on. So sad indeed.

    October 16, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  10. Brian inMD

    The Hate Talk Express is still on track.

    October 16, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  11. joyce

    Ok...I saw a FEW minutes of Palin's speech today and she is downright scary. And for McCain to say that he is proud of her and those who come to her/ his rallies is equally scary. So McCain, you mean to tell America that it is okay to speak hate and obscenities about a man who is very different from the traditional presidential candidates? It is okay to call a black man an A-RAB because he has a muslim name? Obama didn't pick his name, so he has no control over that. And I'm glad that he didn't change it. Is it further okay to scream "terriost" and "kill him" in regards to an innocent man who is trying to make a difference? Well guess what McCain, they make me proud, too...Proud to know that Hell has a special place for them.

    October 16, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  12. Alfeebester

    It's funny to think that not appearing on a late night talk show could have such serious reprocussions. I really think at this point the American people started seeing John McCain in different light.

    October 16, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  13. vote for THAT-ONE!

    mccain proved he has no plan beyond vague talking points... obama has something mccain doesnt have, something beyond experience, something more valuable than experience. he has TALENT, he was made to be president, and I personally feel lucky that the USA is gonna get him. it would suck to see another country get such a capable and wise leader, Im personally grateful to the guy.

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

    Palin has governed as mayor about 10,000 people in Wasilla, which is the same population of Ruidoso, NM. Have you heard of us? She has also governed a state with about the same number of people as the mayor of El Paso, TX.. (750,000) However, our mayor has lots of international experience almost every single day b/c of our proximity to Mexico (right across the river for those of you who don't know SW geography). In addition, we have a large military contingency in our area with Ft Bliss and White Sands Missile Range near by. You have got to be kidding if you think Sarah can hold her own with world figures like: Putin, Chavez, Olmert, etc!!!!! I would much rather have our El Paso mayor.

    October 16, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  15. the Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    Sarah is more qualified to be VP than Hussein is for the presidency. so give it a rest. Hussein is a pacifist and an opportunist. And he wants to raise your taxes and spread the wealth so auntie Mae doesn't have to get up off the sofa. Yeah that 's the ticket and the truth. Obama wants to send a check to auntie Mae. And one to each of her eight kids.

    Way to go obama, spread the wealth.

    October 16, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  16. Cold

    Can't wait to watch tonight!!!

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

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

    October 16, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  18. jen1041

    McCain is delirious thinking any woman with any intelligence would vote for Palin. OBAMA/BIDEN ALL THE WAY.


    October 16, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    What a complete Buffoon McCain is. She is not ready to run the country. She can'teven keep her teenaged daughter from having unprotected,underaged sexual relations.When she said everyone is trying to look at the past things that the candidates have done.we need to look to the future for change.The Past is always a good predictor of the future.
    Our whole system is based on the past.

    October 16, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  20. Kjetil

    I agree McCain screewd up by running as a president. He is not in that good. That he could not be on show because economic problems is ok i think – and too be on a family show is not that important. So that he now apology is just sign on weaknes. He should be strong enoghf to say that he did more important stuff like babysitting Sarah Palin when she was interviewd.

    October 16, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  21. James

    I don't know if Mclame really believes what he is saying or not .The idea of Palin in charge of anything more important than a bake sale is very scary.

    October 16, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  22. AH

    Palin can go around preaching hate to the fringe people that she likes whipping up emotions all she wants but she cannot deceive the American people!!

    October 16, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  23. Lynn

    McCain is out of touch and Palin is out of brain cells!

    October 16, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  24. SCallahan

    Dave Letterman, the best you could do now is restore John McCain's good name..but truthfully, most have solidfied their vote for Obama. But it won't hurt to see John as a nice guy again.

    October 16, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  25. rok

    Shame on McCain camp, it will not work. your desperation has gone out of hand. It pays to be honest, John McCain. You will not be able to sway voters to your side. The voters have seen your temper displayed in public before 70 million viewers, it will not work. We need someone who is presidential, calm, reasonable, sensible, integrity, all these qualities Senator Obama have them all.

    All you offered is anger, display of temper, stiffness, agitation, gestures that are uncalled for like a child, very childish attitude. It is a shame.

    I know you will also vote for Senator Obama.

    Vote Obama/Biden '08

    October 16, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
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