LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - He may be trailing his Democratic rival in the polls, but it looks like Republican U.S. presidential nominee John McCain is headed for a rapprochement with late-night TV comedian David Letterman.
The CBS network announced on Sunday that Letterman would welcome the Arizona senator back to his program on Thursday, three weeks after McCain irked the CBS "Late Show" host by abruptly backing out of a scheduled guest appearance.
At the time, McCain declared he was suspending his presidential campaign and immediately hurrying back to Washington to take part in congressional efforts to fashion an emergency bailout package for the financial industry.
But McCain's last-minute cancellation drew relentless ribbing from Letterman, who suggested the senator's move was a political stunt that ran contrary to the Vietnam War veteran's status as an "American hero."
"I'm more than a little disappointed by this behavior," Letterman said, questioning McCain's motives for suspending his campaign. "Are we suspending it because there's an economic crisis or because the poll numbers are sliding?"
Later in the program, Letterman learned McCain was still in New York, several blocks away, preparing for an interview with CBS News anchor Katie Couric, while a live internal network video feed showed the politician having makeup applied.
"He doesn't seem to be racing to the airport, does he?" Letterman said, shouting at the TV monitor, "Hey John, I got a question! You need a ride to the airport?"
Letterman has since taken numerous on-air shots at McCain for standing him up last month.
McCain's newly scheduled visit to the show on Thursday, a day after his third and final nationally televised debate with Democrat Barack Obama, will mark the Republican's 13th guest appearance on Letterman and the first since he formally accepted his party's nomination.
Obama appeared on the "Late Show" on September 10, during which he sought to clarify a controversial "lipstick on a pig" remark that drew fire from Republicans.
There was no word yet on whether McCain will be bringing Letterman any sort of peace offering.
Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky and Steve Gorman; Editing by David Wiessler