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. VoterinOhio

    Wow, a lot of hate from the Obama supporters here. Shows a lot of intelligence from the comments like "he's old" and "John McCain is the ultimate stupid trick"......
    It's just a testatement to the need for a real improvement to our educational system within this country. Of course, it shows the lack of intelligence of Obama supporters as well.

    I wonder, can one of you actually spell out one of Obama's policies that give you so much "hope"? My guess is I will hear the same "he will give tax breaks for 95% of Americans." Wow, great, 40% of Americans actually don't pay taxes, so that's fantastic that he will give them more money since they contribute so much. Ironically as well he will raise taxes on those making more than $250K, which will hit business owners, the people that employ you if you are slow on the uptake.

    I know reasoning doesn't work, so let me just give you a simple hypothetical. Let's say we have a corporation, and that corporation is seeking a new CEO. Do you go and hire some smooth talking manager who has no real experience but has nice speeches written for him by someone else? Or do you hire someone has experience and can lead. If you were to suggest that a corporation would hire a CEO with no experience you would be laughed out of the Board room. Why is it that America, essentially the biggest corporation there is, will hire a manager based on his pretty speeches?

    October 16, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  2. Zagazaw

    To call an Harvard law professor an idiot, who should not allowed to world at McDonald, The same man your candidate accuse of being ELOQUENT, the man who won all three debate against your candidate, the who show himself to be more financial and economically intelligent than your candidate. You cannot call such a man an idiot without call your candidate a dummy, or being racist. IT’S ALL ABOUT CAUSE AND EFFECT. My friend with every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

    October 16, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  3. Harry

    Well, I was going to vote for Sen. Obama anyway, but I still had some respect for Sen. McCain. Not anymore! A person who thinks Gov. Palin can lead our country should NEVER be allowed to run for president! He did screw up on that, for sure. A shame such a great man can go down like this.
    Personally, I can't wait to see Sen. Obama being sworn in as President of the United States. Someone who believes in his own strenghts, instead of only throwing mud at his opponent!
    OBAMA/ BIDEN 2008

    October 16, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  4. Queen

    I'm sick of McCain and Palin treating the campaign as if its a game. Enough! Every other day its something new. McCain and his nasty attitude, playing the victim. Its pathetic! Obama did a great job articulating his plans, and McCain did a great job "attempting" to use reverse psychology! News flash: The American people don't want to here 10 second sound bites, we want real solutions for "real" people, and Mr. McCain you didn't provide it! Joe, work on your business and stay off the news channels. You think we really believed you were going to vote for Oba ma? Your a plant! I heard about you being on other right wing radio stations, enjoy your 15 minutes of fame, you'll live with a lifetime of shame. Nice try McCain, but like the other desparte attempts, this one didn't work either! I'm over you McCain, Palin and Mr. Joe!

    October 16, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  5. anyonmous

    hey what happen to new hamsiphere hasent voted republican since bush in 2000

    October 16, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  6. Riaz

    Oh yea.. please tell this to American People after the elections; after yesterday's debate, I am convinced so..!!!

    October 16, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  7. Jim

    I cannot wait to hear all the backtracking and "but I thoughts" to all those people who blindly vote for Barack Obama because of the "change" he is gonna bring. The only thing that will change is we gain a little more respect from the rest of the world for showing that we are open to new ideas and not simply racist intolerants.

    P.S. Marie – Canadian healthcare is some of the worst in the world. You should get your facts straight. Hopefully someday you can dig your country out of Gov't healthcare, but that is a long and difficult hill to climb.

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

    By now you know, Joe the Plumber is a joke (besides being a liar), McCain a bigger joke and Palin the biggest joke!!

    October 16, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  9. No Way. No How. No McCain-McPalin.

    He screwed up by choosing Palin, during the debates, and countless other times.

    October 16, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  10. REF

    For all of those contemplating to vote for B. Obama.

    When did so many of the American populace decide to give up on Capitalism and turn to Socialism? Take it from someone who has lived under Socialist countries twice in my life. It is a very dangerous path you are following.

    October 16, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  11. Liz

    Palin has inspired people alright...to rally for Obama. Thank you Sarah...on Nov. 5th you will be packing your bags and heading back to Alaska where you will hopefully teach your younger children about the importance of birth control. If not for unwanted pregnancies but also to take the responsibility of not spreading std s

    October 16, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  12. Arkansas

    1. Since when is being shot down on your "FIRST" mission and being captured a qualification for being president?
    2. Picking Carl Rove's deciphles to run your campaign and playing the "HATE" card didn't work this time....Hmmmmm worked the past 2 elections.......

    3. Sarah WHO?????????????

    4. He is a bitter, angry old man who needs to retire and sit on a bench in the mall waiting while his wife spends the reported $1000.00 a month on make up and $10,000.00 on designer clothes....Talk about a shiver up a spine! LOL

    5. Do we really need a 5 ? I think not.

    6. Obama/ Biden, you have my vote !

    October 16, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  13. SB in NoVA

    1. Yes McCain ... you screwed up ... in more ways than you know!

    2. Speaking as a woman ... absolutely NOTHING about Sarah Palin is inspiring to me. She is WAAAAAAY out of her league in the big time world of politics in the "lower 48", nevermind Washington. His selection of her as his running mate was laughable at first, and now is nothing short of frightening . She is a slap in the face of women's rights and a total wild card when it comes to foreign affairs. She DOES NOT represent me or my values or ambitions.

    Personally, I think the Republicans know that this election is a loss for them and so they threw McCain in front of the bus as to not scar anyone up and coming that will challenge Obama in 2012. Equally, he (or they) chose her knowing this will be her one and only time on the National stage. I think McCain's unpredictable (not "mavericky") actions shows that he knows he's takin' it for the team. But, just like so many other parts of this campaign, no one informed poor Sarah, who still thinks she's the captain of the varsity basketball team and now she just won prom queen, too. That, in and of itself, is a slam against her, but she has no clue ... what a waste of a brain!

    The scariest part of all this garbage ... what if they win?? No matter how much it seems to be slipping away from them, it's still a possibility.


    Obama/Biden 08 and beyond!
    Turn VA Blue!!!

    October 16, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  14. Kevin for Obama


    John McCain & The Republican Party pulled another Political Stunt with Joe the Plumber. Joe is not a license plumber, he is a registered Republican, he does not own a business making $250,000 or more, Joe does not even have $10,000 in his bank account, lastly he already owes the government $1000 in back taxes.

    I am sick of John McCain political stunts. This is another reason I can’t wait to vote on Monday.

    October 16, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  15. susie

    Letterman should joke about how Obama wants to spread the wealth.

    October 16, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  16. Virginian for McCain/Palin

    Go John McCain! You are a GREAT American!

    October 16, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  17. Brad Y

    Hey Anne 7:48,

    Idiots you say? She happens to have more experience that the top of your ticket. What are you an ACORN get out the vote worker? Go sign up the Dallas Cowboys in Vegas. It must have taken a high IQ to think that would go unnoticed.


    McCain/Palin 08!

    October 16, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  18. Hip Hop Producers for Obama/Biden

    To the RACIST idiot that calls himself "I'M NOT A RACIST"...first of all being black if you approached ANY black and the first thing that came out your big mouth was "i'm not racist", we would probably lay the smack don on you and point out that THAT'S JUST the way we decipher what you really mean. Now, as for Obama working at McDonalds ...you have some cajones talking about such a well educated man as Obama is, especially judging by your spelling and the way you tried to put sentences together shows you must be pretty jealous because it seems to me you have very little education yourself! DON'T HATE!

    October 16, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  19. right source

    Letterman along with everyone else, now McCain and Palin have NO education to run the White House.

    October 16, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  20. Toby

    Well Palin hasn't inspired me. I don't care what McCain told Letterman; and to think I used to like him. Palin scares me so much I'm preparing to live in another country if he gets in. I think the world needs a bit more than inspiration at this point and McCain showed poor judgment with his "first official decision" in picking her.

    October 16, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  21. Joe (not plumber)

    Mc Cain screwed up. We've had 8 years of Republican screw ups. Snap out of it Republicans. Get in the real world. No more Supreme Court elections and Republican plunder.

    October 16, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  22. Hill

    Why is this a story?.... LLLLLLAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMMEEEEEE.

    October 16, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  23. Al

    You are right Senator McCain. Sarah Palin has inspired people. She has inspired my wife, mother, and my wife's 93 yr old grandmother (who has NEVER voted for a Democrat) to vote for Obama. You have sold your soul for power and sullied your reputation.

    October 16, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  24. Vee

    The jig is up. McCain's campaign is in the crapper. It's...McOver. Thank goodness he knows where to find a plumber!

    October 16, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  25. Joy

    I am amazed at how McCain/Palin supporters are so willing to ignore the fact that Palin's husband was a member of a party trying separate from the United States. Is that putting Country First? What about the report on Palin that says she abused her gubernatorial power?

    And just for you "I'm not a racist", to say that a Harvard graduate is not qualified to work for McDonald's, while a woman who needed 4 different schools and years to obtain a journalism degree screams of racism. Or do you really think that a man that is intelligent, admirable, gives back to his community, and is concerned with the rights of ALL people, pales in comparison to a woman who winks uncontrollably, and thinks proximity to a foreign nation automatically grants you foreign policy credentials?

    October 16, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
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