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. 20 more days

    Hey Jen 1041,
    Are you questioning my right to choose??!! hmn, sounds hypocritical. You really should show some respect for your fellow citizens.

    October 16, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  2. Old Guy who seen this before

    John McCain screwed up, that's the story of his life and certainly this campaign.

    John and Sarah are in love with Bush policies and will lie every time they are asked about it in public.

    October 16, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  3. Bill, VA

    McCain screwed up by Palling Around with Sara Palin.

    October 16, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  4. stkyrce

    does working 26 years while making bad decisions qualify you for a promotion?would you promote your dead-beat coworker b/c they've been there the longest?

    October 16, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  5. Wes

    Virginia Democrat voting for McCain. Keep addressing the debt and defecit. Cut spending! Make it easier for Americans to save!

    October 16, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  6. SC

    Alexander Mooney if you and people like you would not use the media much to dispell J McCain so much ans throw negative comments the people may be able to think things trhought with having to weed through so much of garbage that you and others like C Brow and Roland M we would be a whole lot better off. I do not see how you all can get away with all the negative comments you put out on CNN. I think you all have abused the powere of the media too much. I wm going to start looking at other news channels and web site. It seems CNN is mostly devoted to the democratic party. You will see your mistakes when it is too late.

    October 16, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  7. Hill

    To the people who keep yamming about Barack running his campaign. The man has 300 foreign relations advisors. David Axelrod is "running" his campaign. I mean you see Obama every day on TV talking to some city or other... he is a puppet. And he is funded by billionaire George Soros. I'm sorry, but, you cannot be giving your SAME talking point-driven speeches to people everyday, and still be "managing" the largest, supremely funded campaign. His people do that.. he is their facade.

    Well funded. Well marketed. That's all.

    October 16, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  8. PCS / North Carolina

    I'M NOT A RACIST October 16th, 2008 7:49 pm ET

    "I so recent the folks who say only racists won't vote for Obama!!! It doesn't have anything to do with the fact that he's black, it's because he's an idiot and shouldn't be able to work at McDonald's let alone the Oval Office…come on folks!!! "

    You call Obama an Idiot. Obama is an intelligent man, who is a Harvard law graduate, and he was the President of Harvard law review. He is a constitutional law professor at Univ of IL. You may have to get your self checked, before it is too late.

    October 16, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  9. Ron

    I was hoping Letterman was ging to pull a Jimmy Kimmel/Matt Damon move and push McCain back until the end of the show, bring him out then tell McCain there was no time left to interview him and close the show.

    October 16, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  10. McCain & Apalin

    The McCain camp. really like the name Joe".
    You got "joe the plumber" and "six pack joe".

    October 16, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  11. Michael Newman

    McCain has selected Palin as the best American to be VP, if he is elected.. Now .. who does he think the best Americans are to be apointed to the Supreme Court.. or to his cabinet ? Todd Palin for Attorney General ???

    October 16, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  12. Marylou

    Sarah Palin has inspired Americans..to vote for OBAMA

    October 16, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  13. bethi in alaska

    After all the public has seen, it is absolutely incredulous that McCain can make a statement like that about this despicable woman.–Oh i forgot- HE WAS LIEING!!!!!

    October 16, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  14. BJS

    McCain saying he screwed up does not even touch the tip of the iceberg, he makes a cork screw look straight. Palin was only the beginning. Last night was the final screw – "joe the plumber" was vetted as much as Palin was (not at all). McCain made a remark last night regarding his running moose and how wonderful she is but seemed to forget what is the matter w/her baby Trig – he does not have autism, he has downs syndrome. GEEEEEZZZZ can't even get that right.

    October 16, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  15. SC

    Gloria Shepherd, you must be nuts.

    October 16, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  16. james s roberts, Dallas, Texas

    So republican, when you can't win on the important topics.... attack the person. Bush did it McCain, Kerry, and here it comes again.

    October 16, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  17. jeffrey doolin

    10xcsn....
    10xcsn

    Go John Mccain.
    We will be voting for you and AGAINST DAVID LETTERMAN

    October 16, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  18. Ron

    I was hoping Letterman was going to pull a Jimmy Kimmel/Matt Damon move and push McCain back until the end of the show, bring him out then tell McCain there was no time left to interview him and close the show.

    October 16, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  19. Rob

    Sorry, John, you no longer have any credibility with me. It saddens me, as I supported you in 2000. I used to respect you, but your recent antics have destroyed that esteem. Now, I think you are just basically a decent man, but your reach and desire far exceed your grasp and capabilities. I wish you well, John, but you are not fit to be President.

    October 16, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  20. BarryIsntTheAnswer.

    CNN seems to run attacks on mccain and mccain supporters should step up and boycott these networks that are drinking the barry koolaid. Yes barry is obamas real name. He changed it during college. I bet 99.9% of his supporters didn't even know this. Go ahead and delete this post cnn. Because you won't bring the truth about mr obama.

    October 16, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  21. HondoCB

    George: Your comments are quite accurate and commendable. Any McCain hangnail gets reported endlessly like with loudspeakers, but nobama never gets any negative press about things like ducking out on a SNL appearance. Indeed, the constant double standard by the media in the entire 2008 election coverage is revolting.

    McCain stands for his Country and has always been proud of his Country first , always, and above all else. nobama, who does not place his hand on heart during our National Anthem has no place running for the highest office in our Country. Poor example, nobama, and you should be ashamed. True patriotic citizens rule!

    nobama was also directly involved in ACORN's intimidation and coercisive pushing of regional banks and Fannie Mae into granting mortgage loans to known bad-risk, lower income individuals as the starter and accelerator of the subprime meltdown. Gee, no wonder the arsonist is first on the scene reporting the economic fire to the fire department and then provides guidance on how to put it out.

    October 16, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  22. April

    Sarah Palin is very unqualified. I personally do not belive that McCain selected her as his pick, I think he was forced to accept her. Now, you (McCain) has to live with his defeat and his selection. Plus Palin has gotten the big head, hang in there McCain, she may ask you to be her running mate in 2012. Not that she will succeed, but I predict that she will definitely make a run for it.

    October 16, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  23. Ryan

    CNN is the KING of making headlines that completely mislead. When I see the headline "McCain says 'I Screwed Up'" on CNN.com, I instinctively think this might be a substansial comment on his campaign. But no, it's about a comment he made regarding missing a television talkshow appearance. STOP with the ridiculous attention-grabbing headlines about pointless inane stories just so we click on them and you can claim more "hits" on the site. And for that matter, enough with the junk stories.

    October 16, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  24. Kerry

    People show their true colors when they would rather attack candidates personally(I have always been democratic, but the far left is out of control the pure volume of vile that they spew is quite frankly disturbing.( doesnt the the far right do the same , yes, but not hardly to compared to the far left. Their not interested in honest debating of different ideologies. All they seem to care about their " truths" I m right, your wrong so of cause that makes you stupid. Is the any other democrats or independents that see it. Thing is what I tell my 8 year old daughter, when ,yes ,adults told her Obama cant be trusted because he has friends that are bad people, and mccain does not care about the enviroment and lets animals die. Nice huh. I told her always think for your self, dont listen to just anyone. Always listen to all points of veiw,and most important research, research, research, dont except things at face value! In my humble opinion they are both good men, with different ways on how deal with the our country and its the issues of the day. Hopefully people will cast their ballot with much thought.

    October 16, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  25. JIM HAWK

    Got a phone call from your thugs today mccain..you are a sick person
    and so is palin..you should be impeached before people can vote for
    you..Pa. does not want you !!!!1

    October 16, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
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