McCain Jokes With Leno in First Appearance Since Loss

A week after their failed bid for the White House, Arizona Sen. John McCain and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin continue to be the GOP's odd couple.

Palin has been on an interview-a-day media whirlwind, calling her critics "jerks" and looking ahead to 2012.

In her bluntest language yet, Palin told Wolf Blitzer on CNN today that she might be a candidate for president in 2012.

"Not ruling that out," Palin said.

She also made it clear she may be interested in becoming a senator from Alaska if Sen. Ted Stevens, recently convicted of corruption, is forced to quit.

"If something shifted dramatically and if it were, if it were acknowledged up there that I could be put to better use for my state in the U.S. Senate, I would certainly consider that," she told CNN.

McCain, meanwhile, emerged on "The Tonight Show" Tuesday to poke fun at himself and say kind things about Palin and the man who beat him, President-elect Barack Obama.

Like any good veteran of the late-night shows -- McCain has been on Jay Leno's show 14 times -- he relied on punch lines that have been honed with time.

sen john mccain and jay leno

"I've been sleeping like a baby," McCain told Leno about the aftermath of his Election Day disappointment. "Sleep two hours, wake up and cry, sleep two hours, wake up and cry."

When asked about the scene when he drove away from his campaign for the last time, McCain said he went to buy a coffee. "But not the newspaper. I knew what that was going to say."

The defeated presidential contender even filmed a short skit with Leno, telling the host that he would be working on the transition team ... for Conan O'Brien, the "Late Night" host who is scheduled to take over Leno's job next year.

While Palin has complained bitterly about the press coverage of the campaign, McCain said he had no beef with the media.

"We're big guys, we're supposed to be able to take this kind of stuff, you know?" he said. "The one thing I think Americans don't want is a sore loser."

McCain Looks Back, Palin Forward

Stu Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, said the contrast in the reaction between the two former candidates reflects that they are at "very different points in their lives and experienced very different things."

"He's a 72-year-old man looking back as much as looking forward. He's been under fire in many ways for many, many years," Rothenberg said.

"She's, in terms of national politics, is a novice. I'm sure she's never been beaten up as much as she's been beaten up in the last three months," he said.

McCain, a Vietnam War hero, got an extended Veterans Day reception from the "Tonight Show" audience even before he started cracking wise.

But he dismissed a suggestion by Leno that he might run again in four years, when he would be 76.

"I wouldn't think so," McCain said with a hint of resignation in his voice. "We are going to have another generation of leaders come along."

One of those new leaders may be Palin, who today was featured in an exclusive interview for a fourth straight day. She has called anonymous critics from the McCain camp "jerks" and "cowards" for criticizing her for a reported shopping spree, not knowing geography and current events and going "rogue" with her own message during the campaign.

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