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. Shame Shame I Know your name GOP

    Palin cannot lead us through a crisis at the PTA, what about her radical connection Mr. McCain. Why is the media not digging into this story. Also how about the Joe the Plummer, who's first name is Samuel and oh yeah he is not a licensed plummer. Correct me if I am wrong, but shouldn't you be licensed to do a job especially if you plan on buying the company. Joe was a plant, and a stupid one just like Palin, again Mr.McCain bad call.

    October 16, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  2. Joby

    After Nov 4th, Palin could join Letterman's joke writers club. Do an interview with her, and whatever she talks about the economy should give us a good laugh.

    October 16, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  3. Kathryn

    Unfortunately that's not the only mistake he's made. And Letterman is one of millions who wonder what happened to the old John McCain.

    October 16, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  4. Wendy

    One question for the guys. Last night during the debate on cnn while watching the graph at the bottom of the screen, everytime Palin's name was mentioned the men showed favor and the women showed disfavor. Are you guys hot for Sarah?

    October 16, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  5. John in KY

    The only thing she has inspired AMERICANS to do is back your opponent McSHAME! (what were you thinking with? obviously not your brain)

    October 16, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  6. Wise White Guy

    Can't afford another screw up in the White House. Oh and by the way you of all people should know she is not Presidential material. A real leader would know that in a heartbeat and put the needs of America above his own blind ambitions. Sorry John you are done and it is your own fault for supporting Bush 90% 2006, 95% 2007 and 100% YES 100% in 2008. You sir are no maverick unless he is a hand that works at the Bush ranch!

    October 16, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  7. AB

    Someone should do a Blink Scale to see when McBush is telling the truth.

    October 16, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  8. CP, Maryland

    Yeah, McMaverick screwed up when he picked Palin. He is the only one other than Palin that thinks she can handle another 9/11.

    October 16, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  9. me

    McCain should go on a less hostile show....

    Maybe he should try "The View".... 😉

    McCain/Palin '08

    October 16, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  10. db

    She certainly is "inspiring"...

    OBAMA/BIDEN '08-12

    October 16, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  11. McWho??

    lol... 'She's the thing we need'...NOT!!! I guess her inspiration is reflected in her dwindling numbers... Or is he speaking about the 'FRINGE PEOPLE' she has managed to inspire who bring stuffed monkeys to her rallies as a racial insult and shout kill him and call Obama a terrorist..lol. I agree, she's definitely an inspiration but a bad inspiration period.
    Maybe leaders don't need to be smart & wise. If they don't then SHE IS THE ONE YOU"VE BEEN WAITING FOR.... lol.

    October 16, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  12. Marie Ontario

    After listening to the robocalls McCain is engaged in there is no doubt in my mind he has gone over the edge. He nows appears as as shell of an old man desperate, erratic and out of touch with voters across America.

    Hopefully his hateful tactics don't inspire violence either at Senator Obama, his campaigners or family.

    One thing for certain the entire world has been watching these events unfold and will regard the final vote on November 4th as a sign of what the American citizens value and how they think. With any luck McCain will get less than 30% of the popular vote and the opinion of Americans will escalate throughout the world.

    October 16, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  13. What!

    That's not the only thing he screwed up on!

    Obama/Biden – 08

    October 16, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  14. Aaron from Ohio

    Senator McCain needs way more than an appearance on Letterman to save him. That whole Joe the Plumber thing blew up in his face today. Joe is unlicensed and works for another unlicensed guy. That is the WHOLE business. The county he works in here in my state requires a license. He doesn't really need to worry about making a quarter of a million dollars AFTER his to have his taxes raised. He needs to worry about getting ANY work now. How do you even buy a business that is illegal?

    October 16, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  15. Bill

    Great picture! He must've just pulled his thumbs out of his "you know what"!

    October 16, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  16. Toni Harris

    Dave Letterman and Keith Olbermann are, in my opinion, the only two "pundits" tough enough to confront McCain with the truth even though he won't admit to it. His choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate was a knee jerk reaction to the success of the Democratic convention and an effort to knock the wind out of Obama's sails. McCain is so obsessed with his mad obsession that because he was one of thousands upon thousands of American war heros, he has a special entitlement to the White House. To this end, he would even put this country at risk by selecting an inept, ambitious floozy who took 5 years transferring from school to school to earn a college degree, and place her a heart's beat away from running this country. He would throw us back into the dark ages to accomplish his goals. The man has become a Mister Hyde.

    October 16, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  17. Shiloh WA

    He screwed up with his condensending remark about Canada at the debate, too. How would you like to live in Canada or England, he asked, in regard to medical insurance. Hello-these are our allies and that is an insult. When the US would not let me buy ANY insurance due to my pre- existing diabetes, I got full coverage for $35.00 in Canada while studying at UBC. 35 dollars-and no one would give me any coverage in the US. My prescriptions cost $65. per month there and $250 in the US. Besides you just don't go insulting a neighboring allie like that. NOT PRESIDENTIAL. My Canadian friends were not happy with this arrogant attitude.

    October 16, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  18. Richie

    McCain is the ultimate stupid human trick.

    October 16, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  19. Phillip Bunn

    John McCain praising Sarah Palin's leadership is like Elmer Fudd saying Goofy is qualified to lead the nation.

    October 16, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  20. outsider

    Please do the right thing for you and the country, Sen McCain. When it's time to leave, leave graciously.

    October 16, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  21. Jeff

    McSame is finally realizing what century it is. Hello, there is T.V. now, when you say you will be there, you need to be there. Not on another show... Bush/McSame...

    October 16, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  22. Michael M, Phoenix AZ

    Well, at least he showed up....All the more for freebie tv coverage. Just what we need is another itchy trigger finger in Washington.

    October 16, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  23. Cam

    Completely unrelated but for the 100th time I will post this in the hopes that CNN does not censor it again:

    Does anyone else wonder how CNN and Lou Dobbs can represent him as Mr. Independent? I mean, how many independents do you know that would use the words "left wing liberal organization" or "elite liberal media" fifty times each every hour that he speaks?

    His totally biased coverage, which often contains inflammatory and half-truth investigative "journalism" really should be monitored more closely.

    His "crush" on Sarah Palin is obvious, as he will never investigate the numerous and serious faults and issues durrounding her. Also, he is quick to insinuate that Obama has participated in voter registration fraus, which he really should be called out on as an outright fabrication.

    All of his "reporters" especially the really irritating two women that are always on his show, are obvious republicans in their slanted reporting.

    CNN, strip him of the Mr Independent title, as he is as far from independent as one can get.

    October 16, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  24. Dave

    Keep it up Mac! Hammer home the message that Obama is a big tax and spend liberal. No New Taxes, No Wealth Re-Distribution.

    October 16, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  25. Ben - Portland, Or

    Maybe Dave will ask him why he's so upset about the Acorn thing when the republican's did the same thing in 2004, right here in Portland, Or. I distinctly remember Bill Bradbury talking about how he'd never seen such a thing before... "registering" people to vote then tossing the democratic registrations out. Seems pretty raw to me.

    October 16, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
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