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. Bridget

    "She has inspired Americans. That's the thing we need."

    NO, NO, NO! We do not need inspiration. We need common sense.

    October 16, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  2. Ryan from K.C.

    It's pretty bad when the first five things I thought of to say about this where increasingly nasty comments about McCain – but I have a hard time feeling bad for him as he brought this on himself. At least he's showing the guts to go appologize for it, and I give him full credit for that.

    But it's far too little, far too late.

    October 16, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  3. White Male Catholic for Obama

    Who knew that the only qualification for president was the ability to inspire Americans? I'm running in 2012!

    This would be funny if this election weren't so important.

    October 16, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  4. PD

    Must McCain do that two-thumbs-up gesture every other minute of his life? It's starting to annoy me as much as him constantly saying "My friends" does.

    October 16, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  5. 100% support of OBAMA!

    absolutely senile comment by McCain about Sarah

    October 16, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  6. Ohio for Obama- Suburbs

    Should be admitting the negative campaign you and your non-VP is not the direction America wants to move in.

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 16, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  7. Keith in VA Beach

    John McCain needs a muzzle.

    October 16, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  8. Frank H Glandale Ca

    I have not seen it yet, but I will watch tonight. But one thing I don't have to watch is Palin she is not ready to lead my block let alone this country. Her and McCain have run a bad campaign and it shows.

    I hope dave did not let him off the hook? Even about the debates?

    Maybe he has noticed that McCain's supporters are reactionary and scared and largely unable to think for themselves – they are believing what they are told to believe without questioning, are often filled with hate and have no comprehension when something is explained to them (as in those who say Obama did not answer the questions – he did, you just are not bright enough to connect the dots).

    I cannot believe that any sane person with even an average IQ could possibly believe that what this country needs is McCain/Palin

    October 16, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  9. Skinniib

    and I use that term loosely.

    October 16, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  10. Kathy from Ontario

    Sarah Palin prepared for another (God forbid) 9/11? Pfff, what's she going to do? Plea with the terrorists to, "Stop bombing America, doggone it!"

    And McCain, does HE even have what it takes to see Americans through another catastrophic attack? Let's hope he's wearing his Depends.

    October 16, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  11. the Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    Sarah Palin is ready, Joe Biden needs to go back to grade school and learn how to spell. Seems he said Obama has a three letter word for you and that three letter word is JOBS that's right a three letter word.

    But Joe, JOBS actually has four letters. You need to return to school. You are not ready and you and Hillary and Bill have said time after time that Hussein Obama is not ready to lead. Obama is risky and it is a roll of the dice for our freedom, security and our values.

    McCain will protect us and not raise our taxes. Obama won't protect us and Obama will raise our taxes. So no to Hussein.

    October 16, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  12. tom guy

    I'm a small businessman and I think this Joe the plumber was being untruthful with Obama. If Joe has been working for 6 years for Mr. Newel of Newel Plumbing and Heating and he and Mr. Newel are the only guys working for the company, there is no way Mr. Newel could be making over 250,000.00/year as owner of the company. The fact that Joe hasn't even gotten a plumbing license clearly indicates he has no real intention of buying Newel Plumbing and Heating.

    October 16, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  13. Jeff

    Inspiring Americans will certainly help her handle the next 9/11 - WOW -

    "Well, my fellow Americans, I have some good news and bad news - we just have been attacked again and I have absolutely no idea what to do. BUT! the good news is that all of you have been inspired by me, so maybe you can handle this crisis for me?!"

    What a joke!

    Obama/Biden 08!

    October 16, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  14. values

    How presidential of Mccain to lower himself like a joke. His campaign is finished.

    October 16, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  15. X-Republican in Texas for Obama

    Will the real John McCain please stand up! Good theory with the MetamuciI as the mind will fog when the plumbing gets clogged.
    Wow! what a revelation! Perhaps this explains his VP choice?

    October 16, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  16. MickeynATL

    Yep, that's what we need in a vice president - inspiration. Not wisdom, good judgement, tolerance, experience. Nope. Just inspiration.

    October 16, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  17. Ed TX

    Oh but that coolaid tastes to good going down, Senator. Sarah Palin is perhaps the least prepared VP candidate in my liifetime. Your campaign has fallen on bad times and your pick of Palin shows both a tendency to place politics first and that is now what we need at this time!

    October 16, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  18. Ric from NM

    If only McCain had picked Romney instead of Palin! What a difference someone with knowledge on economy would have made. McCain/Romney would most probably be ahead in polls. If only!

    October 16, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  19. John, OBAMA 08/12

    Add this Letterman blunder to the dozens of others McCain is guilty of...suspending his already-faultering campaign, trying paint President Obama as un-American, pulling out of Michigan, etc etc, but NOTHING compared to the ultimate screw-up of selecting Sarah-I-Didn't-Violate-Any-Ethics-Laws-Palin to the ticket. That was by far his dumbest move of all!!

    Congratulations, Obama, for winning you party's nomination, on winning three debates in a row, and for winning this long and hard-fought campaign for the presidency. America needs you, your wisdom and judgment after 8 years of Republican blunders!

    October 16, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  20. I Just Said Thanks, but No Thanks to Another 4 Years of g.o.p. corruption, arrogance and incompetence

    Too little, too late, too pandering, too angry, too many bad campaign decisions, too annoyed, too nasty, too many lies, too much hatred . . .
    TO the polls

    It's ok to TIVO Letterman and watch Biden on Leno.

    October 16, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  21. Vickie

    To little to late..................Sorry John ,Palin has not inspired me.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 16, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  22. nelson mcnarland

    Why would Letterman want that clown on his show anyway

    October 16, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  23. Texas Teacher

    Good for David Letterman! It's nice to see SOMEONE stand up to John McCain! The media really kisses his back side. Candy gushs, McCain is on his Game! His game is hate and fear mongering, because he does not have a platform other than George Bush's!

    And Palin? Seriously... that woman is the worst thing for this country! She insights the lowest common denominator in our culture! Because HER mentality is right down there with them.

    McCain is NOT ASHAMED of the people who come to his rallies! Since he encourages the worst from his audiences or allows Palin to do so, he surely cannot be ashamed of them! He has put him self right down on their radical level along with his PittBullDog Palin.

    October 16, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  24. Flex

    Yeah, she inspired me to never vote for a Republican, ever!

    October 16, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  25. Sandy

    I like McCain as a person but in no way do I believe that He believes Palin is ready. I imagine His face is twisted when those words came out His mouth.

    October 16, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
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