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

'I screwed up,' McCain tells Letterman

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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. Proud Military Wife

    Hey Anne:
    You stated "she has inspired idiots. No one with half a brain and an IQ above 40 would vote for her"

    Are YOU stating that people BELOW an Intelligence Quotient of 40 would vote for Obama?

    Just asking for clarification?????

    October 16, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  2. Old white woman for Obama

    Yes, John You screwed up big time. You screwed up when you didn't vet Palin and you screwed up when you did vet "Joe" the plumber. He isn't even a plumber and he doesn't even own a business. You have a very strong tendency to go off half cocked and put both feet in your mouth.
    I bet Joe the plumber goes away about as fast as 6 pack Joe.
    Your feeble attempts to try and connect with the average Joe just shows how out of touch you really are.
    Go back to one of your 7 house and please take Cindy Lou and Sarah with you. We real Americans can not afford more of the same.

    October 16, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  3. Interested Canadian

    As an interested Canadian watching your drawn out election process, I can't help but wonder what the big fuss is about? This is just another media tidbit to fill in to keep voters interested in the news coverage. Letterman is obviously bumping up his potential ratings with his rants, knowing full well that more people will tune in when McCain shows up.
    .
    Obama is clearly the "chosen one" this time around. McCain tried to pull out all of the stops with choosing Sarah Palin, but unfortunately (for him) his strategy didn't work out as planned. The only thing that will stop Obama is if Barrack makes a major mistake or McCain pulls a rabbit out of his bag of tricks to help affected homeowners breath a little easier. Either of these options are unlikely to happen.
    .
    Get used to saying "President Obama" my American friends!

    October 16, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  4. Dealt, Lisbon

    Does McCain, by any flight of imagination, think that Hillary's supporters will vote for... Palin??? Most likely they are feeling insulted by the idea...

    October 16, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  5. Kent D

    When I read the headline I was thinking he might be referencing his "friend" Joe the Plumber (JTP) – who has no plumbing license, owes back state taxes and would save more money under Obama's tax plan. Another outstanding vetting job by the McCain Camp.

    Look at McCain judgment: A sampler, if you well –
    -No Vetting of Palin or JTP.
    -Campaign staff riddled with Lobbyist.
    -And the most offensive – Touting how proud his is to be an adoptive father, yet he employs – pays, gives wages to – the people who used racial slurs and stigma about that very child to derail his 2000 bid. Where is this man's family values? Why isn't that a story?

    As an adoptive father – I have no use for McCain. If he won't stand up for his own family, I know he won't stand up for mine or JTP's.

    October 16, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  6. Jay

    I'm so sick of this cranky old guy and his all of his mugging. What is with the hole thumbs up? He's running like this is 1980 instead of 2008.

    Obama/Biden '08!

    October 16, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  7. JohnLee

    Have to wonder about McCain's campaign. Why do they continue to make boneheaded mistakes that they later have to spend time resolving? That's precious time they are losing and have lost when every moment counts. It also shows problems with wisdom, judgment and organization as well. That's how I see it and I once thought McCain was a very excellent choice for President!

    October 16, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  8. Old white woman for Obama

    Yes, John You screwed up big time. You screwed up when you didn't vet Palin and you screwed up when you did vet "Joe" the plumber. He isn't even a plumber and he doesn't even own a business. You have a very strong tendency to go off half cocked and put both feet in your mouth.
    I bet Joe the plumber goes away about as fast as 6 pack Joe.
    Your feeble attempts to try and connect with the average Joe just shows how out of touch you really are.
    Go back to one of your 7 house and please take Cindy Lou and Sarah with you. We real Americans can not afford more of the same.

    October 16, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  9. Ben Collins

    McCain is in the death throes of a failed campaign. His moose jawed PTA qualified VP choice was the tipping point for me. Can you imagine either one of them with the nuclear football? An average pilot who got shot down, because he was average. And a completley mis directed religious zealot? Bu bye John and Sarah.

    October 16, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  10. JB

    To George –

    Is it better to show up and vote present, or not to show up at all and try to get your way from behind the curtains?

    According to Factcheck: "For the record, the National Journal did not offer a rating of McCain's votes for 2007, because he missed more than half the votes that would have figured into the rating, even more than Obama missed."

    Not to mention the vote McCain likes to call Obama out on in regards to troop funding – oh yea, McCain wasn't there to vote, but he went straight to Bush to influence him.

    Good try though!

    October 16, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  11. John from SC.

    Sorry Senator McCain. I need a smart president rather than someone who can make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

    October 16, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  12. Hankers

    Someone call Joe the Plumber 'cause this piece of crap don't want to flush right!

    October 16, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  13. Hill

    Sarah is different. She's not a Senator (of which only TWO, people, have rightfully won the WH through democracy). She's done the right things for her people of Alaska. She is a true Conservative. She is inspiring Clinton voters who were scorned by Obama's dirty campaign. (Delegate count in the hotel rooms of Denver????) Unprecedented.

    Sarah is a better "man" than Barack and Joe put together. I'm proud to support her.

    October 16, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  14. Tiff of lithia springs

    You don't say BUDDY!!!

    October 16, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  15. Carl from MI

    Sad and pathetic!!

    Slimy and deplorable!!

    I hope Dave skewers him... he's earned it!!

    WAKE UP, AMERICA!!! VOTE SMART... NOT SENILE!!!

    October 16, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  16. Tim

    He didn't screw up, he bold faced lied!!!!!

    October 16, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  17. Fran, SC

    It is an insult to women for John McCain to have chosen Sarah Palin as his running mate who could literally be two heart beats away from the presidency. This woman is as dumb as they come. If she is so ready to be the VP and maybe the President why doesn't she do interviews with the media? John McCain is a desperate, angry old man whose time has come and gone. He has been in Washington close to 30 years and is a prime example of what's wrong with government. Anyone who votes for McCain needs to have their head examined.

    October 16, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  18. TPB GOP

    The Messiah is coming
    There shall be no more hurricanes as He will stop the waters and the tides
    There shall be no more sickness as He will heal the planet
    The rich need not worry about losing their wealth as He will keep their money in his own Treasurey
    There shall not be need for anymore hardwork and struggle for success as its noble rewards will be "redistributed"
    He will relieve you of making choices, as his government will run your life for you
    There shall not be anymore "unwanted" lives as He will support the death of babies who survive an abortion
    He shall destroy "evil" entrepreneurship and businesses for He will punish those "guilty" of success
    There shall be no more enemies as He is adored by all the world
    And he shall come to Washington D.C with arch liberal Nancy Pelosi's call and the sound of the trumpet of Harry Reid
    He is Barack Obama

    October 16, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  19. Go Obama

    McCain is an angry man. He scares me bad. I afraid he would start WW lll.

    October 16, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  20. National Review Subscriber Voting for OBAMA

    The sad thing is that even McCain doesn't look like he believes anything he says during this campaign. How sad to see what American politics does to honorable Americans.

    October 16, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  21. Stew

    John McCain is our next President! Obama is a robot and he wants your money. His minions, Pelosi and Reed are drooling over the prospect of a wild orgy of spending your money.

    October 16, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  22. Arizona Lady

    The real reason McCain is behind in the polls is his personality. He sneers, smirks and laughs exactly the way George W. Bush does and which the American public is sick of. It is pathetic watching McCain walk around the stage like a dottering old man with his head bobbing. Perhaps his Depends are too tight. One thing is for certain, You can fix policy, but you cant fix personality.

    October 16, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  23. AdamW

    Obama has inspired people as well but you claim he is not ready, Senator.

    And here is a reality check. She has inspired only your base and no one outside it. She actually offends the rest of us. The last think I want is a murderous moose hunting, trash talking, power hungry, power abusing wannabe hockey mom drinking brews with Joe Six Pack, smoking Joe Camels and hanging out under the sink with joe the Plumber.

    She is not good for this country and neither are you!

    October 16, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  24. Chris Wakemore

    We need intelligent and steady thinking, not cheerleader inspiration...

    October 16, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  25. gloria

    mr mc cain and all who read this there was a women on cnn the other night that said because you did not leave vietnom when they wanted to realease you before the other men whom were their before you shows that you would be a great leader at this time for president and i agree because you cared about otheres befor yourself. as jesus said any one whom gives there life for another is ths greatest thing a person can do. you were willing to give up your freedom at that time before the othere prisoners it was a great thing so i believe when you say i love my country you love everyone in the u. s. a. and you want the best for all . yes oboma loves america to . but what you did at time has impressed. you are a great man. i hope you win . think and think about that america thank you gloria

    October 16, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
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