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. Bill

    Its disturbing Palin shows disdain for formal education and policy details. Worse her daughter and son in law are dropping from high school at this age and era. Its good the GI bill guarantees her son to go to college after serving if he wants. She is not a great role model in terms of youth pursuing excellence in the 21st century.
    Folksy maybe ok for PTA but just wont do competing with 3 million engineers graduating each year from Chinese and Indian universities.

    October 16, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  2. FF Wife

    Once again it seems that people can only drink the red or blue Koolaid. Look at both of these men. I don't question either man on patriotism or desire to serve. Neither has much substance to their arguments. McCain has experience but lacks eloquence. Obama is extremely eloquent but thin on experience. We can question McCain on his choice of VP's but there is just as many questions. surrounding Obamas connections. Neither of these men can or will be able to carry off what they promise economically- do the math. For me it comes down to their basic views on America. I do think the Obama is just a bit too close to Marxism for me, this is the reason McCain has my vote.

    October 16, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  3. Sue

    Hey George 7:44

    Sen. Obama cancelled his SNL appearance out of respect for the approaching disaster in TX that everyone seems to have forgotton about. You know...the hurricane that killed so many people.

    October 16, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  4. Fighter, Seattle

    If Sarah Palin is not qualified to be President of the USA (which she certainly is!) what makes anyone think that Obama qualifies? He's planning to spread the wealth around, which he should be good at because he's sure been spreading around the BS. The guy is a communist, liar, deceiver, and I would trust Gov. Palin to do the right thing much more than either OB or his ancient sidekick BidenTime.

    October 16, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  5. Redlands, California

    I almost feel sorry for McCain and want to change my vote to him. Then I remember his VP is Sarah Palin.

    Obama/Biden 08!

    October 16, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  6. holy cow

    Seriously people...he ditched Letterman. Give me a break. If you ask me Letterman needs to suck it up. He's a TALK SHOW HOST. What a whiney baby! And can we please stick to topic.

    ya'll say you don't want mud slinging in the campaign because you're sick of it and yet I've seen more than one personal attack on ALLL Republicans not just McCain. Bad form people, bad form.

    October 16, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  7. CM

    There are any number of Republicans who are way more qualified than Palin to be the vice-president; McCain's choice of Palin does not put 'country first', which seems like just another platitude, but it puts 'campaign first'!

    October 16, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  8. jessica in va

    hey lady that said she is ashamed to be a american women because of sarah palin !!

    October 16, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  9. Miami Mary

    McCain was a viable option until he picked Sarah Palin. Could he not have picked another woman who has experience and an understanding of at least one issue. Yes, Palin gave a great convention speech but has not done anything but speak at people since then. Even McCain's 90 year old mother has spoken to CNN. We must hold her to higher standards and I must question McCain if he thinks a breath of fresh air is what we need!. I am insulted.

    October 16, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  10. louigi

    McCain should go vote for Obama/Biden.....

    October 16, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  11. michael in MO

    Interesting that all the McCain "hate" commentators on these pro-Obama blogs like CNN "Ticker" use almost the exact same lingo and lines they used for Senator Clinton. Wow, it must be that simply anyone who is opposed to Obama in any way is (all together now): Stupid, Racist, Ignorant, Loser, (fill in the blank). If this is the way of Obama and his child-minded supporters, well then, "Heil Obama." Been there/done that/not good.

    October 16, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  12. AM in VA

    Did Johnny Mac do any stupid human tricks ?....hmmm 🙂

    October 16, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  13. Jack

    Ha, Lettermen! There was a new study that shows for every late night show there is 7 jokes about Republicans to one joke about Democrats. So let me ask why does Letterman think he deserves respect from McCain?

    October 16, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  14. ABC In OH

    Why doesn't someone at Cnn ask about the Philip Berg Lawsuit over Obama's missing Hawaiian birth certificate? Why will CNN go after McCain about ridiculous things about missing the worthless Letterman show – and not push the Obama birth certificate issue? Has anyone seen his proof of citizenship? Let's not count this election over yet – as you seem to want to do.

    October 16, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  15. quinton

    Candidates are only the reflection of the people who vote for them. Guess who's the intelligent.

    October 16, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  16. lana

    She inspired this hockey mom to donate to Obama. Palin is rallying all intelligent people to Obama.

    October 16, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  17. DEE

    MCCAIN I give you a good advice vote for OBAMA

    October 16, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  18. Arthur

    America has been duped into thinking either one of these candidates are going to make any change. This country is broke, in unrecoverable debt, and is being led by greedy elected officials, both republican and democrat. I predict a rapid loss of freedoms and prosperity for this country.

    October 16, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  19. Sally from Cali

    McCain's betrayal of the American people by having the wife of a secessionist on his ticket is amazing. Palin should not be briefed on national security issues period.

    October 16, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  20. Plant

    The LADY that McCain told NO when she calling Obama a Arab.....WAS ANOTHER PLANT........Because he and Palin had TOO many speeches and this type of racist yelling and NEVER say anything.....he just STOOD there and SMILED..............That is why he KEEPS trying to use HER to DESTRACT our attention from the real ISSUES we face....THE ECONOMY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 16, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  21. Mickey in Texas

    To "I am not a racist," (yes I said it) that said of Barack Obama, "He shouldn't be able to work at McDonalds let alone the Oval office." Why does it have to be McDOnalds? Why not McCain working at, "Starbucks?" FYI I looked at McCains' record and trust me on this, it is not a pretty sight. The man is a misogynist, war monger, as well as a greedy egotist!

    You do your homework! Senator Obama is an honorable man that is a loving father and husband. There is no doubt in my mind that he has the same views in mind for all Americans that he does for his own family. You are more than welcome to be part of this family as well. We don't have time for racist views and divisiveness. Americans are his family and I will be proud to be able to call him Mr. President come November 5th!

    October 16, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  22. louigi

    McCain and Palin should go vote for Obama / Biden..... I am.

    October 16, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  23. Brian

    The Surge is working!

    At least 6,000 Christians have fled the northern
    Iraqi city of Mosul in the past week because of killings and death threats,
    Iraq’s Ministry of Immigration and Displaced Persons said Thursday.

    The number represents 1,424 families, at least 70 more families than were
    reported to be displaced on Wednesday.

    Iraqi officials have said the families were frightened by a series of
    killings and threats by Muslim extremists ordering them to convert to Islam or
    face possible death.

    October 16, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  24. bec

    yes, john. you also screwed up when you picked sarah palin as your vp and when you voted against equal pay for women.

    you voted against me, so now i'll vote against you.

    October 16, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  25. Gman

    Did any one see Obama on Letterman he is the best (:

    October 16, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
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