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. George

    Regarding Obama's Tax Cuts for the Wealthy, CNN just Factchecked Mccain's claims and what did they find? The bottom line: McCain's claim only works by using an overly broad definition of what counts as a "small business" – and even with that definition, fewer than 2% of business owners would be hit by Obama's proposed rate increase (493000 out of 35 million filers who are considered small businesses) . For those who are affected, the increase would be levied only on a part of their earnings, not all of them (only the part that exceeds the cutoff, for most people that translates into $1500 more in taxes or 3% extra). These were the conclusion drawn by independent studies published by the Tax Policy Center.

    October 16, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  2. conservative in n.c.



    October 16, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  3. JimBob

    When all you libs wake up Nov.5, the silent majority will have spoken. Until then, enjoy your 15 minutes.

    October 16, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  4. Scared of McCain

    She has inspired people? lol, like the supports she thinks are protesters. i saw the same thing from mccain last night, he was just rude and arrogant and obama is so presidential. think about it, if something happens in the us, who would you want to talk to you and tell you whats happening, the man who can actually look into the camera and talk straight to us, or the old guy who is laughing and cracking jokes like nothing is a big deal..oh and dont forget if we ever need a moose hunter we can have the vp go hunt! genious.

    obama/biden 08!

    October 16, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  5. Larry/TX

    Listen in poker you call this all in. A bettor may go all in, continuing his pursuit of the pot not because he thinks he has the best hand, but figures after a bad run of luck, they have nothing to lose at this point...and hopes for 11th hour blind luck. I mean, let's face it, who expects him to admit that he erred in picking her. When all you can do is keep reciting what positives she brought to the ticket while ignoring the fact that the negatives far out-weigh the positives, then clearly you are just putting the best spin you can on a horrible situation. The sad thing is that he has a history ,career wise, and through-out this campaign as being a big gambler, always looking for a tactical wind-fall. That's why the true intellectual conservatives are deserting him. They've had enough of this scattered devil may care mentality

    October 16, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  6. joseph from vancouver

    I hope Dave cuts this guy up really bad. He is the worst hypocrite, well maybe not as bad as Palin, but this guy is something else.

    October 16, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  7. Jessica

    I am shocked that he would sidestep a serious question regarding handling a potential 9/11 situation by saying she "inspires people". Are you serious? The dwindling Republican base...yes. The rest of us...hell no. We don't want 'inspiration' by a marginally educated neocon, we want intelligent, informed leadership. Period.

    To get a glimpse of what she "inspires" , view "A sidewalk to nowhere" on youtube. It will shock you.

    October 16, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  8. Sharon

    "I screwed up," McCain told Letterman more than once....

    Well, that's a leader for you. A REAL leader would have given a REAL apology, like this one "I'm sorry I wasn't able to make my scheduled apprearance on..." NO but gramps has to sound like a real moron more than once. UGH...and THIS is what you people want in the White House...

    No THANKS....I'll stick with "That One"

    October 16, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  9. First time voter

    I am so tired of MacSame and Palame.

    October 16, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  10. Amy

    There is no way on earth any sane person can honestly believe that Sarah Palin is prepared to lead this great country!

    We have no need for those who are found to abuse power in higher national office! Alaska can keep her as their governor because that doesn't affect me directly.

    October 16, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  11. Stop the Pain Palin Propagates

    What a Weasel...

    He wouldn't recognize the truth if it slapped him in his face..

    If he wanted to be president he should have run after his 1st term as a senator 22 years ago. 😛

    October 16, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  12. John

    It's about what I expected...McCain is yet another desparate Republican contender, who will do and say anything to get where he wants to go. Palin? What are you kidding? Say what you like about Hilary - and I could say plenty - she is at least capable at this level of government and never really stooped to McCain/Palin's level of fear-mongering during her campaign for the Primaries. Anyone that wants an eye-opener on McCain should read Matt Taibbi's article in this months Rolling Stone...you will be disgusted with McCain politically and especially personally.

    October 16, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  13. Corrine

    Palin can't run Alaska without fault and huge fault at that let alone AMERICA. Her idea of family values completely skewed as well as abortion rights. Don't let me go any further. If McCain is elected the chances are very probable that Sarah Palin will become President. Which really would make America the laughing joke of the world.

    October 16, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  14. angela wright

    No she is'nt ready to lead palin is scary!

    October 16, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  15. Ollie Birdine

    He is right. Sarah Palin is awesome. I can't wait until she runs for President in 2012

    October 16, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  16. Mel of Alexandria, Virginia

    He has screwed up his character and his sense of what is decent and true

    October 16, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  17. C. Baptiste-Williams

    Obama is not qualified... but Palin is what we would need after a 9-11 attack... NBC should make this into a comedy... o they already did

    October 16, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  18. Rita

    John McCain just doesn't have it. Lou Dobbs has gleefully said this race has "tightening up". What is he on? I really would like to ask Sarah Palin about her comments that Barack "thinks so little of America that he pals around with terrorists". If she and her husband think so much of America, why does she continually address the Alaska Independence Party of which her husband has been affiliated. Just this year she addressed their convention. The AIP believes Alaska should be annexed from the United States. Their founder said he "hated American and didn't want to be buried on American soil". Makes you think - who is the Real Enemy Of America. First of all, it's not their land to do with as they please. When she addressed their convention recently she told them to "keep up the good work". Why isn't this being brought out more in the media? Barack and Joe, thank God we have you.

    October 16, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  19. hD


    October 16, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  20. Debbie, Los Angeles

    Ya think??????

    Obama in '08!

    October 16, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  21. What a Liar

    John McCain is a liar

    1) He lied about why he cancelled on Letterman by saying he was going back to washingon and was laster seen doing an interview with Katie.

    2) He lied about his involvement with the Keating 5. Keiting was arrested and sentenced and it was later overturned on a technicality.

    3) He lied about Obama palling around with terrorist

    4) He lied about Obama raising taxed on people who make less than 42,000

    5) He lied about who Joe the Plumber is/was.

    6) He lied about sex education for 5 year old kids

    7) He lied about not giving aid to a fetus where abortion failed.

    8) He lied about how many houses he has

    9) He lied about the cars he drives, they are not all American.

    10 He lied about cheating on his first wife

    11) He lied about Obama and Biden dismissing and disrespecting Palin.

    John McCain is a shameless whining Republican whom I hope gets his political head handed to him on Nov 4th. I will be in line come rain shine or snow...
    And CNN will not publish for fear of hurting his poor little feelings.

    October 16, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  22. linda from South Dakota

    well i guess mccain has more than once stuck his foot in his mouth and this has cost him the election,,,, as i said before, he should retire and vacation 1 week in each of his 7 houses,,,,,,, plus learn how to STOP critizing everyone, includin obama and our allies,,,, but then he may never learn,, he picked palin who has cost him alot(vote wise),, but this was his choice,,, obama/biden 08 yes we can!!!!!!!

    October 16, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  23. joo

    Who in their right mind would vote for dizzy McCain and dizzy Palin....she is not VP quality.....maybe she needs to try out for a hockey mom coach....and McCain wants THE WAR FOR 100 YEARS AND HAVE OUR G.I.'S DIE SENSELESS.....IS THRE SNY END TO IT????

    October 16, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  24. gmuñoz

    LOL, I love David Letterman, always have , and F.Y.I. it was a "joke", about the approval ratings, you know, ha, ha, like Mc Cain just a " joke " Chill out , and look beyond your party, and maybe you might see what everyone else see's in the old /angry /redundant guy.
    .Have a great day, and don't forget to vote 🙂

    October 16, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  25. Susie oklahoma

    I look for substance in a President not rumors and straight up lies. McCain/Palin are NOT what America needs in this time of Economic
    Hell that we are in.

    October 16, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
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