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Letterman chides McCain for suspending his campaign

Oh boy. Looks like the long-friendly relationship between Sen. John McCain and David Letterman may be on the skids.

The late-night comedian was none too pleased that McCain decided to bail on an appearance on the “Late Show” tonight so he could rush back to Washington to deal with the economic crisis –- particularly since he stopped and gave an interview to CBS News anchor Katie Couric along the way.Mccain_letterman

The Republican presidential nominee was supposed to make his 13th appearance tonight on Letterman’s show, the venue where he originally announced his White House bid in 2007. But he backed out late Wednesday afternoon, saying he was suspending all campaign activities to focus on getting a financial bailout plan through Congress.

During the taping of tonight's show, Letterman told the audience that McCain had called him personally to apologize for standing him up and said he was rushing to the airport to get back to Washington. The late-night host called McCain “an honest-to-God hero,” and questioned why he needed to halt his campaign. Couldn’t his running mate, Sarah Palin, take over while he was in Washington, Letterman asked.

“I’m more than a little disappointed by this behavior,” he said. “We’re suspending the campaign. Suspending it because there’s an economic crisis, or because the poll numbers are sliding?”

The audience whooped and applauded.

“You don’t suspend your campaign,” Letterman added. “Do you suspend your campaign? No, because that makes me think, well, you know, maybe there will be other things down the road –- if he’s in the White House, he might just suspend being president. I mean, we've got a guy like that now!”

Things got worse for McCain when Letterman, in the midst of interviewing substitute guest Keith Olbermann, learned that the GOP candidate was actually still in New York. Not only that, but McCain was about five blocks away at the CBS News headquarters, sitting down for a last-minute exclusive interview with Katie Couric.

Incredulous, Letterman interrupted his chat with Olbermann to show the audience a live shot on the internal CBS news feed of McCain getting touched up by a makeup artist as he waited to talk to Couric.

“He doesn’t seem to be racing to the airport, does he?” Letterman said, shouting at the television monitor: “Hey John, I got a question! You need a ride to the airport?”

More highlights, including Letterman's Top Ten Questions People are Asking The John McCain Campaign after the jump...

-- Matea Gold

Photo: An earlier appearance by John McCain on "The Late Show with David Letterman." Courtesy CBS.

The Top Ten Questions People are Asking The John McCain Campaign

#10 “I just contributed to your campaign – how do I get a refund?

#9 “It’s Sarah Palin – does this mean I’m pars’dent?”

#8 “Can’t you solve this by selling some of your houses?”

#7 “This is Clay Aiken.  Is McCain single?”

#6 “Do you still think the fundamentals of our economy are strong, Genius?”

#5 “Are you doing all of this just to get out of going on Letterman?”

#4 “What would Matlock do?”

#3 “Hillary here – my schedule is free Friday night.”

"It’ll be interesting here to see if Barack Obama feels the need to suspend his campaign to go down there and work on the economy.  He’s also a senator.  And his running mate, Joe Biden, he’s also a senator.  So there, those two guys have to get back to work.  So of course, they’ll suspend their campaign.  Don’t you think? 

"The Democrats are now at a real disadvantage because Barack Obama has got to race back and fix the economy.  So does Joe Biden.  He has to race back and fix the economy.  But the republicans have Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska.  The Alaska economy is fine.  It don’t need fixing.  It’s fine.  So she’ll continue the campaign.  So the democrats are really in a hole now."

#2 “Is this just an excuse to catch up on napping?”

#1 “This is President Bush – what’s all this trouble with the economy?”

Letterman's extensive criticism continued:

We’re in sorry need and short supply of actual heroes like John McCain… But when you call up at the last minute and cancel a show…This is not the John McCain I know, by God. It makes me believe something is going haywire with the campaign. Someone got to him and said, blow Letterman off, he’s a lightweight.

Sure, there’s an economic crisis. And here’s what you’re do if you’re running your campaign in the middle of an economic crisis and its about to crater…You’re a fourth term senator from Arizona. You handle what you need to handle. Don’t suspend your campaign. You let your campaign go on, shouldered by your vice presidential nominee. That’s what you do…

You say, I gotta get back to Washington to save this country. Good for you. And while I’m gone, campaigning in my stead will be my great running mate from the state of Alaska, Sarah Palin. And she comes out and campaigns. What happened there? What’s the problem? Why isn’t she doing that?

This doesn't smell right. This just doesn’t smell right. Because this is not the way a tested hero behaves. I think someone's put something in his Metamucil.

And let’s say there’s a time of crisis, and the poor guy, because he’s a little older…Palin takes over as president, well, she ought to be ready, because she’s handled crisis like these in the past. Oh, wait a minute, she really hasn’t handled a crisis like this in the past.

He can't run the campaign because the economy is about to crater? Fine, you put in your second string quarterback. Well, where is there second string quarterback?

After Letterman learned that McCain was sitting down at that moment with Katie Couric, he had this to say:

I don’t want to keep beating this thing, but it just really is starting to smell now. Because he says to me on the phone, I took a phone call from John McCain – a lot of senators don’t call me – and so I felt like OK, as part of the national good, I understand and I said good luck and thank you for being attentive to the cause. And he said maybe next time I’ll come in and I’ll bring Sarah Palin. And I said, fine, whatever you need to do, that’s just fine. And he said, yeah, we’re going to go save the country. And then it’s like we caught him getting a manicure or something!

-- Matea Gold

Comments () | Archives (55)

McCain needs to ditch his advisors. He has been hijacked but them and the wheels are coming off the "traight talk express."

What a stupid, cynical move to 'suspend the campaign." Congress was doing just fine without you John. They are working it out.

And not smart to lie to Dave and pull out at the last minute. Makes you wonder what other terrible decsions he'll make in the white house (and what other lies he'l tell).

He's certainly not getting my vote.

Gee I hope that Obama can win Friday's debate! He's got a great chance, he will be uncontested. Just like in Illinois when he ran for Senate!

Obama/Biden for the win......

He stood up David Letterman? Then I won't vote for him!
Which means the I'm not a racist! Obama won't play the race card on me!
This time!

No matter what way you cut it and what he might have been - McCain is erratic. And if this is how he reacts under fire - regardless of what we attribute to his advisors - it's obvious now that he's just not qualified to deal with a daily ebb and flow of crises. Erratic is worst than either conservative or liberal, erratic is worst than inexperience. Erratic is dangerous.

If McCain's first obligation is to serve the people of the United States, not their respective party political campaigns, why did he chose Sarah Palin?

There are 500-something members of the House, and 47 on-duty members of the Senate. Explain to me what McCain and/or Obama will accomplish with their outsized presence to "resolve" this crisis - other than an obnoxious press corps invading the Congress - which for once, seems actually serious about collaborating and solving a problem.

If Barack Obama suggested postponing a debate or other campaign event - he would be accused of a) playing Superman and swooping in on Washington to look like he's saving the day, and b) hiding under a table completely unprepared to debate his opponent.

Thanks but no thanks, McCain can save his helicopter parachute rescue into DC until after the other desperate politicians (and president) come to an agreement.

Hey Letterman, Since you love Obama so much maybe you can afford to pay higher taxes but I can't. Maybe you should sell one of your many cars or houses to help the country pay the 700 billion.

Ha! McCain caught in a big fat lie. So he went off to save the country huh? By walking 4 blocks down to go talk on the news?!?!? Does this man even know what multi-tasking is? Where is Sarah Palin? She isn't in the Senate. She can speak without her strings being pulled? What a pathetic bunch!

To me the real point of interest here isn't so much the standing up of Letterman, but the fact that McCain must announce that he's suspending his campaign to work in the economic issues. Campaigning is a lot of work, and so is addressing serious economic issues. When someone examines all of the things that the president must do at once on a given day there are often many more than one or two important issues that need to be addressed. McCain could have delegated campaign duties to is VP candidate like Letterman suggested, or he simply could have campaigned from Washington DC of teleconferenced with his colleagues while out campaigning. Besides announcing that you're doing what you perceive as the right thing then telling someone else to do the same sounds like a politically motivated move.

He LIED about going to Washington immediately. Is that fact lost on those that want to overlook this incident? It's a pattern of behavior that is very disturbing. Oh, and since when is Katie Couric a news show? laff

Republican and Democrats. So busy trying to define themselves and the other. Not content to relinquish their titles, they try to undermine eachother day and night. Do we really need all this fruitless conflict?

Let your ideals define you, rather than some title. Try to be mature.

If McCain's this bad when he's campaigning (the sales pitch), just think what he'll be like if he's President. He certainly can't afford to debate Obama on Friday since it's his and his party's policies that got the country in this horrific mess in the first place. He would not be able to defend his economic position in a debate without incurring the true wrath of the people, and he couldn't espouse Obama's (or HIllary's) economic position without upsetting the repugs. SP can't take over because she's a backwater yokel who hasn't a clue about most issues and doesn't know how to handle herself. So McCain's only choice is to suspend his campaign. Another president who will bury his head in the sand while the world is falling apart? I don't think so. Remember when people spoke up in the sixties? Well, I think Obama's slogan should come right out of a song by The Who: WE WON'T BE FOOLED AGAIN!!! Or as my niece would say, "Liar, liar, pants on fire!"

McCain is a pathological liar. Today, of course, he is in New York to speak at the Clinton Foundation. Only tonight does he plan to finally make the trip to DC -- where a deal may well have already been finalized.

McCain is a coward. He got into the Naval Academy only through his father's pull, finished at the bottom of his class, crashed five jets during his career as a "pilot," ditched his ill first wife for a rich second one who bought him his House seat ... he has not held one civililan job in his life, and has no idea how to deal with the real world.

When the White House phone rings at 3AM, will he ask for another time out?

Feh. McCain would be funny if the threat of his becoming President were not so serious.

No matter who you think is more fit to run the country, it is easy to see in this one case, McCain did a disservice to himself. Yes, the pundits would have you believe we are doomed. However many economists do not buy into that. We have had a major economic calamity in the late 70's where there was no bailout, but look, we are still here.
However regardless of your feelings about the current economic slump, we are not so doomed that a campaign has to be halted. Even if that is the case, clearly less than one hour being away from the action is not a nonissue.
I do not appreciate the facade being presented currently. I am not blaming McCain personally. I bet it is his campaign advisors who are weak. For me it boils down to if it was their decision, then the campaign really hasn't been put on hold. If it was McCain's, then he painted himself as a liar by not rushing back to the Capitol and opting to appear on another program.
I kind of feel sorry for him. In 1990 he seemed like a good pick. This is what the current political process can do to an otherwise quality human being. For shame.

"Hey McCain, We smell your feet!"

Hey hockey mom, and all you other repub dimwits....You're going to pay higher taxes no matter who is in the WH. But, wth McCain the deficit will be about 3trillion dollars higher than with Obama. (Do the math). Under McCain, we'll be moving into the 21st century with a 19th century mindset and only the wealthy will benefit while working people continue to do without healthcare and before 2012, McCain will be physically and mentally incompetent (remember Reagan in his declining years?) and the nation will be run by a shadow government that usurps the power of the people and undermines the Constitution at every turn...do you want to move forward, or backwards as a nation?...but in the end, it won't really matter. Neither one of these candidates will be able to fulfil most of their "promises"...with the economy about to completely tank,The War about to expand even further into Afghanistan, unemployment about to skyrocket... it all just can't be done....At least with Obama, we get a president who is consistent, measured, intelligent (Obama was a Harvard Law Professor for 12 years whereas McCain graduated last in his class).. and we get a president who honestly believes that we all live in One World and not just the World of the United States.

So McCain doesn't feel it would be appropriate to be on Letterman during a 'crisis'? That's funny, I seem to remember that Dave Letterman had a pretty good handle on what was appropriate during 911...

I'm surprised that Letterman is shocked by McCain's behavior, however. This didn't come on all of a sudden. McCain certainly has sold out during this campaign and it makes one wonder if his Manchurian Candidate programming has finally kicked in.

Even after all this, sheeple will say, "How dare you question McCain during this time of crisis...." etc....Those are the same people who would say, "How dare you question Marshal Law during this period of unrest" if it were to happen......Same sheeple who would say, "How dare you question Herr Hitler" if they lived in Nazi Germany in the 30's and 40s. These blind sheep would even vote Bush in again, if presidents were allowed to run for a 3rd term. How could ANYBODY in their right mind allow republicans yet ANOTHER chance, when our country is basically being flushed down the TOILET because of their leadership? The answer is that there is a vast swath of people in this country who are NOT in their right mind. Obviously.

Does letterman realize he is entertainment, not news? I think McCain is smart to go and vote as a Senator. Obama and Biden should do the same, wait, maybe Obama can vote "present".

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