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. SC For obama

    i think this is a proof the Mccain is not a model for others to learn from. He chose a VP that violation on the ethics law, and if anything happen to mccain if he is elected, then we are going to be homeless when palin takes over, my wish in life now is For Senator BARACK OBAMA is the next President of the USA.

    GOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OBAMA / BIDEN 2008-->>>2016

    October 16, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  2. Bea

    It's about time the Unitversity of Chicago and the students that AYers taught be condemned for hiring and allowing a terrorits to teach them respectively…and all the senators be charged for working with Obama…that includes McCain

    October 16, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  3. Cindy, CA

    Oh Johnny boy, give us all a break! She is no more qualified to lead this nation than I am, or for that matter, than you are. And while you're apologizing for your screw-ups, there might be a longer list than Letterman.

    Sarah Palin is about as inspiring as a rock! No, wait a minute... a rock is inspiring compared to her. She is not inspirational, she is a puppeteer of the same campaign strategists that helped elect Bush. You are no maverick, and you continue to demonstrate how unqualified you are to lead this nation, to unite us as one nation, or to inspire us to elect you as President. You have not earned the respect or trust of this voter, rather you have lost it.

    Your apology is that you screwed up?.... no John, you lied, you didn't tell the truth, which goes to your character and judgment. You needed to go to Couric because I'm sure you heard the bad news: Palin completely blew the interview.... why don't you just call it what it is: we regular folks call it 'damage control.'

    October 16, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  4. royce d louy

    Palin has really inspired me just as McCain has said
    I wasn't sure who i would vote for before
    Now i know the Republicans could never get my vote
    I need more than a soccer mom for that important office let alone as president in an emergency

    October 16, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  5. Mickey

    Everytime he opens his mouth and tells us how great Palin is, he turns more voters against him. He must only listen to right-wing advisors who report feedback from the Repub. base; he might want to consider what undecideds and independents think. Where did he get Sarah Palin? Will we ever know? Hopefully in someone's future biography. Who in their right mind would have chosen her?

    October 16, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  6. Dixie

    Maybe Sarah will personally be making some of the campaign calls McCain is sending out. They are vile, and right down her alley.

    I'm depending on you Sen Obama to come out victorious.

    October 16, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  7. j

    Are you sure the comment was meant concerning his skipping out on Letterman to "suspend" his campaign and get back to Washington while he appeared on the Katie Couric show instead, or did he mean the ways he's been running his campaign. The latter is definitely a "screw up". I sincerely hope the American people are smart enough to realzie this man is running a very deceptive campaign. He's not an honest or honorable candidate.

    October 16, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  8. SusanM

    No John, it's not "I screwed up" after your bizarre choice as Sarah "the Moose Moma" Palin, the tanking of the economy and your meltdown on national TV, the optimum statement is now.."I'm screwed."

    October 16, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  9. No McCain

    Hey McCain ... I wish this was the only thing u screwed up....U screwd a lot more than you admit.

    October 16, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  10. Eunice

    Lou Dobbs should switch to Fox Net News he very much a repub.

    October 16, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  11. US Armed Forces

    Every good Commander knows when to call it quits. That is the main problem we have here.. Senator John McCain was never a good Commander nor a good Officer. to be truthfully honest, Senator John McCain road his daddy's coattail to through the Navy.

    Leave gracefully.

    October 16, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  12. Diane M of Los Angeles, CA

    Inspiration from Palin, Wasailla's own Village Idioit? I dont think so."

    October 16, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  13. Mike Smith

    Yes, we need another 9/11 attack with Sarah Palin reading "My Pet Goat" while it happens.

    Enough of the neocon movement. It failed. Trickle down economics failed. And the right wingnut mentality has failed.

    Sarah Palin will soon fade into the Alaskan tundra.

    October 16, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  14. Barry

    "That's the thing we need." Yeah, John, another 9/11 coming up just for you.

    October 16, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  15. mary ca

    He kikes her because each time she is on her side the z......r ccome down

    October 16, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  16. Ray Powell

    Senator McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his V.P. choice just showed this country once again that this country cannot trust McCain's judgement. As much as we have found out about Mrs. Palin, we now know that she is the last of the four people running for President or Vice President that should be that close to running this country. Sarah Palin is in way over her head. The Republican party can't even trust her on her own in inverviews of any kind. She only knows what they have queue'd her to memorize scripted sentences and she doesn't have ANY background in dealing with international issues, AT ALL!!!!! And of the two Presidential candidates John McCain is the most likely to be in the position of not being able to carry out his duties, given age and health history. We should all be very concerned of this possibility. And what does that tell us about John McCain's judgement, not to mention putting country second to his winning at any cost. He just hoped that she would pull in most of the Hillary Clinton supporters. He DID NOT put country first here. Typically Republican, say or do anything to win and consider anyone that disagrees with you as an enemy. Hey! We are all Americans, Republicans, Democrats and various other party affiliations. And the President is elected President of the United States of America, not of the Republican, Democratic or any other party. Once elected party affiliation should be 2nd to being the leader of the United States of America, honoring and upholding the Constitution not a particular party platform. Come on, Mr. McCain, really put country first and not with just lip service......

    October 16, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  17. Spiker715

    Sarah Palin is qualified for nothing as is evident in her pathetic record in Alaska. She was a gimmick for the McCain campaign with no other purpose then to help get him elected – not help him govern. Had Hillary Clinton been Obama's VP choice, Sarah Palin would not even be a topic of discussion right now. Two things that McCain had to do in order to get elected – Pick a good VP and run a good campaign. He has showed he is failing at both of those. As Colin Powell said about Obama and his lack of experiece – paraphrasing..he never had experience running a presidential campaign, but look how good he is doing.

    McCain's chance was in 2000...not now. If he never becomes the president, besides blaming himself, the ONLY other person he can blame is George W. Bush.

    October 16, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  18. Davonroe

    Gloria, Geraldine Ferraro was the running mate for Walter Mondale and the Democrats in 1984.

    October 16, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  19. Rob indetroit

    MCcain along with the crypt keeper need to go home toArz, and spend money.

    October 16, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  20. Perusing-Through

    ED ASK: "Is John McCain related to Baghdad Bob?"

    ANSWER: = = Yes. Like Baghdad Bob, John Mcsame is clueless as to how pathetically silly he appears. Unfortunately 'McSame' is NOT the 'McCain' of 2000!!

    October 16, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  21. Surge

    I'm voting based on style and the color of their skin.

    October 16, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  22. Tyler

    Just because someone is inspiring doesn't mean that they are fit to lead the greatest nation in the world...

    October 16, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  23. Kris K from CA

    Palin is not ready to be a mother let alone VP to a 72 year old man.
    McCain is not a well man. Not an honest man. The only thing we can agree on is that he is old.
    Neither of them are ready,able or capable of running this nation.
    Palin is the worst decision McCain has made in 2008. Running for President was his worst mistake in 2007. Before that I am sure he made some awful decisions-just ask Cindy.

    October 16, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  24. Mothernature Houston,Tx

    McCain is full of lies and deceit. He is to dangerous for this country. Pack up and go home baby home!!!!!

    October 16, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  25. mzbond

    He screwed up or he is screwed up? When it comes to Joe Blow the Plumber, McCain screwed up royally.

    October 16, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26