Watch McCain on Jay Leno Tuesday night.
(CNN) - Sen. John McCain said Tuesday he "couldn't be happier" with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, despite polls suggesting she was a drag on the Republican ticket.
In his first television interview since the election, the Arizona senator said he was proud to have had Palin as his presidential running mate and grateful that she agreed to run.
"She inspired people. She still does. And look, I'm - I couldn't be happier with Sarah Palin. And she's going back to be a great governor, and I think she will play a big role in the future of this country," he told Jay Leno on The Tonight Show.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released the weekend before the election indicated that Palin's unfavorable ratings had doubled since McCain picked her, and 57 percent of Americans believed she didn't have the personal qualities a president needed.
As for the future, the poll indicated that only four in 10 voters would support Palin if she chooses to run for president in 2012. Among Republicans, however, 77 percent said they would support a Palin candidacy in four years.
McCain said Tuesday night that his party "has a lot of work to do," and he predicted that new leaders like Palin would help carry the party into the future.
"I really believe that Sarah Palin is amongst some, like Tim Pawlenty and Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, there's a group of young Republican governors and - mainly governors, but also some in the Senate - that I think are the next generation of leadership of our party," he said.
Asked if he'd be up for another presidential run, the 72-year-old senator seemed doubtful.
"I wouldn't think so, my friend," he said. "It's been a great experience, and, you know, we're going to have another generation of leaders come along, and I'll hope that I can continue to contribute."
This was McCain's 14th appearance on "The Tonight Show." The former Navy aviator's appearance was scheduled to coincide with Veterans Day.
Today Alaska Governor Palin sits down for a one on one interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. The interview will appear on the Situation Room starting at 4pm ET. Palin will also appear tonight on Larry King Live at 9 p.m. ET.
EW, get real. You are talking about apples and oranges. There is a vast difference between a state with less than a million people, with oil in its back yard, and one with more than a few million with no oil. And give Sarah Palin a little time and she will wreck the pristine wilderness that is Alaska like no other place in the world.
Sarah Palin would not make it past the Republican primaries, during the next election cycle.
She would get eaten alive by more qualified candidates such as Bobby Jindhl, or Tim Pawlenty.
ALASKA : 683,478 PEOPLE
ILLINOIS: 12,800,000 PEOPLE
I love Sarah Palin but how can you make such a comparison...LOL
I think I'll change my party affiliation, so I can vote AGAINST her in the next Republican primary.
Her extreme religious views should scare most people.
GARY November 12th, 2008 9:15 am ET
Thats right.She has more guts and experience than Obama and Biden with leadership. Should dont need to con Americans.She has a great track record.
She'll be fine, once she goes over her Geography notes from the fifth grade. Then she can learn all there is to know about the country of Africa!
She could also get Dan Quayle to coach her in the debates.
The real irony is that, the "Not Ready for Prime Time Player", Tina Fey, played Palin on SNL, and it's Palin herself that's not ready for prime time!
Tina Fey/Jo the Plumber – 2012!
how exactly does she inspire people
Is it that voice that makes you want to kick your cat
Is it the fact that she is clueless and mean spirited
Is it the fact she is not qualified in any sense for higher office
Sarah your 15 minutes are up-try not to speak anymore
Pallin has 81% approval rating
no budget deficit
annual checks to all residents as she protects their interests
sold Jet and saved residents 400,000 in a year
high graduation rates
put crooks in her own party and other party, plus oil frauds in jail
cleaned house and that is what she'll do in 2012, clean up the crooks in Washington
Wow, it is true recent book written by well known historian called "Stupid American Voters".
I do wish McCain would have acknowledged or apologized for some of the hateful rhetoric that his campaign resorted too. He fluffls over the fact that his campaign had a responsibility they did not fufill and death threats against the Obamas were rising partly due to the way his campaign decided to go negative.
If Palin will play a big role in the future....that's SAD!!!! I guess that confirms that I made a wise choice when I switched parties.
Did any of you watch Leno's show last evening?
I believe Leno, who is a bit right of center, would have supported McCain had he not picked Palin. He was angered and frustrated as were most voters over the choice.
McCain, the gentleman that he is, would not put down Palin. Leno tried. He asked several leading questions, but McCain would not buckle. In the end, Leno gave up, stating - "you're too much a gentleman" and he let it go.
That alone speaks volumes about McCain. And, although he may not agree with Obama on many issues, he would fight to the death to defend him and America. He is loyal and he is genuine. We are fortunate to have him on our side.
I Can only see her driving a snow plow or zamboni, thats it thats all!
McCain was dumb enough to pick Palin.
I doubt if he has the intelligence to regret that pick.
Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, just call me "John McCain".
The GOP had better rethink Sarah Palin. I am fed up with the right wing fanatical Christians trying cram their believes down the throats of Americans! Go read the Constitution Sarah and save your holier than thou crude for those that care.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..." Notice it doesn’t say God, Jesus, Allah, Mohammad, Buddha, Jehovah…just “their Creator”. Pick one, but it does not mean you have the right to preach from your office of government!
I am so sick of hearing about Sarah Palin. The only reason she's front and center on CNN is because otherwise they'd have to go out and find news to report. And that's much more expensive than just talking about the inane.
I think it's great I would love to see a Dem run against her. What a wack job. Looks like the future of the republican party is going to be real bright. lololololololololololol
Is he finally going to tell us how to get Bin Laden? He said he knows how during the campaign. He wouldn't be so bitter and hateful about not being elected that he would refuse to tell us now, would he? Or was that just more of his campaign lies and deceit?
The Republican Party have much better folks to look at in 2012. Jendal, Chris, Pawlenty to name a few. Not that I want any of them to end up in the White House. (I am an Obama voter all the way.) But, certainly they have more intellect and understanding of diversity then Sarah Palin. She would represent nothing but a giant step backward for the U.S.