October 16th, 2008
10:19 PM ET
6 years ago

'I screwed up,' McCain tells Letterman

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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. A Woman In California For Obama:

    Every day I become more and more speechless on McCain and Palin. It's to the point Nov. 4th can't get here soon enough. I don't even bother to listen to the poor excuse of a vp he chose. I just mute her annoying voice or turn the channel. She is like a curse being placed on all of us for not behaving ourselves. She's a night mare that you can't wake up from. Please lady, please go away! Anywhere. The firestorm McCain and Palin have ignited-they are going to fall into. McCain stands back and pretends he's clean while she yells the hate. McCain, you aren't fooling anyone. We know you hired her to get the ignorant racist vote. YOUR fire will consume YOU eventually. His heart is just as yellow as his teeth are. They are both dirty.

    Letterman should distance himself from McCain. His ratings would go up. Please Obama supporters go out and vote. Please.

    October 16, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  2. Bob Dole

    Letterman knows that Palin isn't qualified and he had the guts to call McCain on it. We're screwed if Palin and her shadow government husband get into power.

    October 16, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  3. Mele

    Com'n Old man, it not only needs inspiration, but also substance from the candidate. But your VP choice showed us who you are, you don't care about America, you are self-centered man. You chose her to make your base happy and to steal some Clinton's vote. That's too bad. You gambled, and hopefully you will lose. We don't need such gambling in our life.

    October 16, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  4. salas1

    McCain has been "screwing up a lot lately" – I truly do not believe that him and "his breath of fresh air" aka "airhead" VP pick should be in the WH, They couldn't handle it. Sounds like McCain and his followers need anger management – Dr Phil – where are ya?

    October 16, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  5. Chicken Little's Hardhat Company

    Hitler was an inspiration to some of the German people before WWII. Look at what that led to.

    October 16, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  6. Mark

    Ask McCain about John Keating.

    October 16, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  7. Jorge

    So much for McCain's promise to whip Obama's donkey.

    Heeeeee-HAW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 16, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  8. george

    this is the kind of pressing journalism the clinton news network has to drag up? why put the link as something grave titled "i screwed up" when all it refers to is mccain skipping an appearance on the david letterman show?
    how much more irrelevant can you get? dave letterman isn't funny, his show isn't political, and nobody really cares that poor dave didn't get a ratings boost from mccain appearing.
    as i recall nobama skipped out of an snl appearance.

    too bad mccain had work to do. obama could just continue voting present and living it up on the hawaiian beaches during the greatest financial crisis in decades, while liberals demand late night tv hack appearances... politics has sunken to a new low

    October 16, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  9. R. David

    Palin's appeal?
    What we have is the dumding down of America. "She just like us", Joe six-pack says.
    That's what they said about Bush. How soon we forget.
    Obama sound too proffessorial. He's sounds too smart for his own good.

    October 16, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  10. Rumsfeld

    Waving bye-bye McSame/Palin

    buh-bye in '08

    October 16, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  11. J-STIZLE ( Oakland, Calif. )

    Palin hasn't "inspired" me . I'm TERRIFIED of her ( and her
    seccesionist husband. Reminds me of the Confederacy !!!

    October 16, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  12. Jim Q.

    Inspiration DOES NOT CUT IT!!!

    We are not children!

    We are not fools!!

    October 16, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  13. Sherry, Atlanta

    Qualification's for becoming the VP. . . "Able to inspire"

    What has this Great Nation become?

    October 16, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  14. Lisa

    Maybe he should go on the VIew, Elisabeth could throw rose petals as he walks in and kneel at his feet as he speaks, GROSS!!! He was rude to David Letterman and he deserved the way DL talked about him.

    October 16, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  15. Larry

    He is an angry old man.

    October 16, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  16. charles

    McCain screwed up when he chose Palin for his running mate but he is to stubborn and hotheaded to admit it. This guy cannot hold his temper for five seconds and is not someone I want sitting next to a nuclear button!

    Charles

    October 16, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  17. Heather in SoCal

    McCain: "I screwed up"
    USA: "DUH!!!"

    October 16, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  18. Gnomepark

    ...are you referring to your campaign and platform???

    Obama/Biden 08
    Dick Lugar (R) for Secretary of State

    October 16, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  19. s

    "She [Palin] has inspired Americans. That's the thing we need." Wrong. What we need are qualifications, inter/national experience and ethical behavior. All lacking in Palin. Yup, you screwed up, John. Big time. Even your fellow conservatives are dissing you on this choice.

    October 16, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  20. Perusing-Through

    " 'I screwed up,' McCain told Letterman more than once in the interview that's set to air Thursday night."

    NOTE HOW APOLOGETIC McSAME CAN BE WHEN HE NEEDS MORE CAMERA TIME AND PRESSED BY POLL NUMBERS. IF McSAME CAN APOLOGIZE PROFUSELY FOR CANCELING A DAVE LETTERMAN APPEARANCE, THEN WHY CAN'T HE APOLOGIZE FOR SENDING OUR PRECIOUS YOUTH INTO AN IRAQI GRIND-MACHINE.

    Shame on you Mr. POW.
    Shame on your series of votes against veterans benefits and support for vets with PTSD.

    October 16, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  21. john ny

    What a joke mccain is He could not even answer letterman question. palin is a joke all mccain can he that palin inspires america i don't think so she is full of hate, abused her power, her husband gets involved way too much, she kill innocent animals, allows people to shoot wolves from the helipcopters and then ties their legs to the bottom of the helicopter and drag them across the snow, she is unethical, she believes in witchcraft, she belong to the AIP Alaska Independence from the USA, she is pro life, she is an insult to women all over this country, she has no foreign policy she can see russia from her house, she is a heartbeat away from the presidency is this who you want to run our country wake up america she is disgusting and allows hatred
    cnn please post you never post for me

    October 16, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  22. Deb, Allentown,PA

    McCain screwed up when he chose Palin. I wasn't thrilled with the possibility of a McCain presidency, but his choice of her sent me right over the edge. She's dangerous, evil, and frankly, she's just plain stupid. No way should she get anywhere near the White House, other than to go on a tour.

    October 16, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  23. sam

    Forget about watching this show–watch Leno tonight and see Joe Biden.

    October 16, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  24. Lovely in VA

    Oh, so now, it's inspiration, that's all we need huh McShame!
    Well, gee, wonder where your inspiration came from??

    October 16, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  25. Richard

    Fortunately, Gov. Palin's best inspiration to Americans is to vote for Barack Obama.

    October 16, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
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