In his first television appearance since conceding the election to President-elect Barack Obama, Sen. John McCain spent Veteran's Day with Jay Leno on The Tonight Show, alternating in tone between his characteristic, self-deprecating one-liners and a more reverent seriousness.
"It's been a week since the election. How are you doing?" asked Leno. "Well, I've been sleeping like a baby," responded the senator. (Wait for it.) "Sleep two hours, wake up and cry. Sleep two hours, wake up and cry." He recalled taking a drive with his wife the morning after the election. "Cindy and I went down to get a cup of coffee and — not the newspaper. I knew what it was going to say," he cracked.
Much as he did in his concession speech on Election Night, McCain emphasized nonpartisan support for Obama. "Campaigns are tough, and they should be because you're seeking the most important position in the world. But there's a difference between being tough and being personal or angry. Now it's time for America to join together and support the man who was just elected President," he said.
McCain also remained supportive of his former running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, and thanked her for her service to their campaign.
In addition to paying tribute to the nation's servicemen, he told a poignant story about a fellow POW who sewed the image of an American flag on the inside of his uniform, despite having already received beatings for such an offense. "He wasn't doing it for himself. He was doing it for his country and our ability to pledge our allegiance to our flag and country," he recalled.
When Leno asked why we didn't see more of the lighter side of McCain on the campaign trail, the senator replied simply that he didn't think Americans wanted a standup comedian in the White House. He went on to say, in response to Leno goading him to blame the press for his defeat, "You know, one thing I think Americans don't want is a sore loser."
McCain downplayed Leno's suggestion that he might run for president again in 2012. "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. That's all."