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. Independent Voter

    Obama the Opportunist = Socialism and a detoriation of the American Dream.

    October 16, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  2. at

    If Palin is qualified to be VP, then by comparison, I think I'm ready to be a brain surgeon. I need a first subject to test my theory – any volunteers?

    October 16, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  3. Tam in CO

    Hey George – If McCain had work to do why did he give Katie Couric an interview after he "suspended" his campaign? And if Sarah Palin is ready to lead this country, we are all in trouble if they win...................

    October 16, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  4. ednadavid

    John McCain has demonstrated that he is impulsive and can change his mind from one day to the next – that is not the kind of person we need in charge of our safety, security and our country.

    October 16, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  5. Happy in Arizona

    He always screws up so what else is new. He is the most annoying person I have ever seen.

    October 16, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  6. BarryIsntTheAnswer.

    CNN seems to stop running 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 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  7. tphil

    Sen. McCain says he "screwed up", that's one thing I agree with him about. He screwed up by picking Gov. Palin as a running mate, he screwed up by saying the "fundamentals of our economy are strong", he screwed up by saying "I'm going to suspend my campaign and not debate until the bailout package is approved".

    I mean seriously, we can go on and on about the many things John McCain has "screwed up".

    We cannot allow him to "screw up" our nation for another 4 years!

    OBAMA/BIDEN '08!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    October 16, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  8. Leigh

    It amazes me to hear all the hot air coming out of the mouths of the media and Obama's supporters. What has he done? Nothing. He calls for change. What has he changed? Nothing. He blames McCain for problems that started with the Clinton presidency and went into the Bush era. Least everyone forgets, the Democrats have been in control of the Congress for the last few years. Obama says things, and the media and his followers regurgitate it back out. To me it looks like a cult and Obama is the leader. Obama has some backers that are very questionable ( Acorn and Rev Wright to name a few). It is really scary to think that he might be the president. I will be the first to say we need change, but Obama is not the change we need. We need a proven leader, and that is McCain.

    October 16, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  9. Precious Coker

    McCain you are living in a fools paradise!!!

    Sarah Palin is the begining of your fall to political Oblivion!!!

    Sarah Palin has only excited right wing "LUNATICS"

    October 16, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  10. Jean

    Sarah Palin is MORE qualified to be President than Obama.

    Bill Clinton was impeached for FAR LESS than Obama has already done before he got into the White House.

    One way or another Obama will not make it 4 years.

    October 16, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |

    John... you are so far off base no one can tell where your words and the BS your handlers are feeding you meet or end... No fret

    MY FRIEND........ you will be able to rest in Arizona for as long as you wish in just a few days...

    Yup its Bruce that old-white-retired guy from Ma... a former Republican

    October 16, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  12. CT Voter

    I wonder why Sarah Palin won't go on Letterman - or any other UNSCRIPTED show, for that matter.

    October 16, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  13. Butch Dillon

    McCain owes apologies for much more than the affront to Letterman. He has treated the American public like a nuisance in his way to the White House, offering nothing more than stunts and extremely bad judgment all the way. Yes, he screwed up over and over and he needs to atone for all of it.

    October 16, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  14. proud army navy mom

    If only Mcsenile will admit that he screwed up in selecting pitbull Palin.

    He still wouldn't get my vote, but I will a least think he's not brainless. Just saying.....

    October 16, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  15. Aquinas

    Thanks CNN for the preview and reminder to tune in to Letterman to see real entertainment tonight of McCain spin of how that dreadful Palin choice is one in which she is competent and qualfied to serve as a VP candidate. We now know that New Hampshire is in Palin's view of the Northwest U.S. fromher recent stump speech, since I guees she can see the state from her side porch.

    October 16, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  16. Get it right.

    From a Canadian who respects the American people, I sincerely hope you guys get out there and VOTE! We had our vote this week with the lowest turn out ever. It didn't make a difference and we are stuck with the same minority government. The only way you can make a difference is by voting and get it right. FOR THE LOVE OF CEREAL GET IT RIGHT! 8 years of listening and watching your economy hit rock bottom, it is time for change. Time to think about your own country and build up your own economy.

    (We are all laughing very hard at Palin up here in the north, please don't screw it up)


    October 16, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  17. ObamaBiden08

    Did anyone see McShame's nose grow when he said at the debate that Obama has launched more negative campaigns than he has-even though independent fact checks have stated that McCain has more untruthful ads? What made it so sad is that McShame justified the negative ads because obama would not agree to his request for town hall meetings. So i guess if any candidate does not give it to McShame's town hall meeting demands-it gives the GOP the God given right to unload on negative smear ADS that are full of lies!!! McShame you should really be ashamed!

    October 16, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  18. Ann from MI

    I actually agree, Sarah Palin has inspired me... to volunteer for the Obama campaign! I wasn't such a strong Obama/Biden supporter until McCain chose her as his VP. We cannot let this woman enter the White House!

    October 16, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  19. michael

    McCain says that Palin will be an inspiration if we have antother 9/11 attack? I am apalled, absoulutely apalled.

    October 16, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  20. NickNas

    She has inspired racism , death threats to Obama and Hate.

    What a WOMAN!!!!

    October 16, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  21. Olivia

    It's amazing! Most of you anti-Palin antagonists posting here don't know a darn thing about this woman, yet you say the most outrageous things about her and her family.
    You question her intellect just because she was new on the scene and was set up by a couple of the networks to make her look uninformed. It was obvious to everyone..to me...and to you also I'm sure. Yet the poison is still being spewed out by those who seem to enjoy it.
    Come on. Let's be good people. It's more fun and a lot fairer.

    October 16, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  22. Michael watching from Canada

    I wonder if the Republicans care what the world thinks of McCain and Palin?

    If Republicans truly care about the image that their candidates show to the world, they would stop all of the nastiness, half-truths, nuances and mischaracterization of their opponents.

    Whatever happened to honesty, honor and integrity?

    One thing is clear.......

    Bush was a master of attack, attack, attack.

    So is McCain.

    October 16, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  23. RapidRay

    "She has inspired Americans."

    I was especially inspired when I found out that I live in the Northwest.
    So were my fellow New Hampshire voters who are now going to support Barak Obama, not because we were insulted, but because we are enlightened.

    The truly amazing thing...John McCain never said there WOULDN'T be a "next 9/11attack". So much for his confidence in protection our country from radical islamic terrorists.

    October 16, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  24. scorie

    Get off all you stupid people. Oh yes like Biden is a big weiner!!!
    The big cry baby in the White House just what we need. Oh boy.

    October 16, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  25. It's over McCain!

    Dude you screwed up when you announced you're running for President.

    October 16, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
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