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. Ed

    Is John McCain related to Bagdad Bob?

    October 16, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  2. BKoi

    John MCCain has put the c ountry in harms way by choosing a totally unqualified and moronic person to run for vice president Without a script and a teleprompter in front of her she is absolutely lost! In MCCain's quest and lust for power he has NOT put his country first and as a result, has put the nation in PERIL. This does not deserve forgiveness, and at the very least a vote! SHAME ON YOU ! SHAME ON YOU!.

    October 16, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  3. reg

    vote vote vote

    October 16, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  4. meena

    Oh PLEASE, Palin we need?
    Her hubby Todd will take over the Oval Office once again and she will hide from us all , the rest of the world will be laughing at us.
    It is not John McCain talking, the man lost his senses the day he picked her.

    October 16, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  5. Joel Parkes

    Palin leading the nation through a crisis? I wish he'd stop lying and just be who he really is – a decent guy who is scrappy and isn't afraid of telling hard truths. He's not the John McCain I knew from his 2000 campaign. Pity.

    October 16, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  6. paul oregon

    kindof un sure of letterman. maybe hes not as funny as i thought

    October 16, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  7. am

    If inspiring is all we need to lead a country then why does McCain have a problem with Obama. He has inspired more people in this election than any person in modern history, yet McCain says thats not enough and has in fact mocked him.

    October 16, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  8. Bring America Back!

    Maybe that's his way of admitting he has lost the publics attention and it will make him feel better.

    October 16, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  9. KJL

    Did he stick his tongue out at Letterman?

    October 16, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  10. KCKatwoman

    Sarah Palin has done nothing for the McCain campaign except confirm the fact the they are both extreme right wing facists. Palin needs to be dropped off of an Alaskan plane donning a wolf costume and hopefully so rabid hunter will get a bead on her! She is worthless and as plastic as a 2 liter soda bottle. Good choice, McCain! That just shows many Americans how senile McCain has become. by choosing Palin as his running mate. Amazing! What a radical pair to draw to. I can't wait to see the 2 of them go down big time in November. What a celebration that will be!

    October 16, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  11. Gloria Shepherd

    For the first time in MY life,because of the offering of the first woman for Vice -Presedent,I am ashamed not only to be an american but a woman!!!

    October 16, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  12. Peter (CA)

    That last sentence is why John McCain should never be President. If he believes that Palin is prepared to be President, his judgment is worse than I even imagined.

    If he lied because the right wingers made him pick her, then he is dishonest to himself and to this country.

    October 16, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  13. Tom

    Isn't it just like an egotistic, poor-excuse -for-a-comedian like Letterman to think that an appearance on his show (or lack of) could have any bearing whatsoever on the polls. Dream on Dave!

    October 16, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |

    Our country does not need Sarah Palin. John McCain is DEAD WRONG!! GO OBAMA/BIDEN!!

    October 16, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  15. Muz

    He screwed up in many ways, that's why he's gonna lose the election.

    October 16, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  16. Ron was a REP now a DEM

    I have a hard time listening to these people that are interviewed that say they did not hear what they wanted to from the canidates. They don't know where they stand on issues. This is terriable that so many of us don't educate ourselves about the canidates and need to be told with missleading statements how they should vote.

    In all of Obamas responses he has detailed his positions and plans and McCain has only tried to smear Obama. McCains plans are off the cuff and seem that thered is no thought like the buying bad mortages and refinanceing that at currant home values. This would be directly burden the taxpayers and the banks would be made whole.

    McCains plan to make market losses tax deductable would only benfit the rich that desposable cash to play in the market. The loss on your 401K would not be deductable. That some real redistribution of wealth

    October 16, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  17. Michele


    October 16, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  18. Derrick

    Palins Ready (insert joke as required) to be VP! Shes inspired America (insert next joke)! No, the only inspiration is to give the Wolfs and Caribu guns so they can shoot back! Who is he kidding, she is NOT ready

    October 16, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  19. Dylan from MN

    McCain's new campaign slogan should be "I screwed up.".

    October 16, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  20. Ben in Athens

    If we need "inspired Americans", isn't that complimentary to Barack Obama?

    October 16, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  21. randy

    john i have one word for ya ,it is to late!!

    October 16, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  22. Red, Red WHINE!!

    The Gallup polls show a 2 point margin between the candidates. That's because, as they point out:

    "The "traditional" likely voter model, which Gallup has employed for past elections, factors in prior voting behavior as well as current voting intention. This has generally shown a closer contest,....

    reflecting the fact that Republicans have typically been more likely to vote than Democrats in previous elections."

    Democrats, did you hear that? Gallup polling thinks we won't show up to vote, that's how they figure this race is close.....LET'S PROVE THEM WRONG!!! Do not let this pattern continue. Do NOT take this election for granted....vote, rain.snow or shine...TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK!

    October 16, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  23. HouseDiva

    McCain IS a screwup...

    he especially screwed up mentioning "Joe Plumber"

    turns out that Joe doesn't have a plumbing license, and he's not even a member of the plumbers union.

    you would think that the GOP have learned their lesson of planting people to ask questions. does Jeff Gannon ring a bell?

    October 16, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  24. Desmond Sequeira

    Next to himself, Sarah F A I L I N has so soon become McSame's greatest liability .

    October 16, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  25. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    Why am I being censored today?

    McCain is running the biggest lies ever in his ads in NC. Glad I already voted today. McCain is a dishonorable old liar.

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 16, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
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