Palin will play a big role in future of U.S.: McCain

Former Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin is amongst the next generation of leaders for the party, and the United States, John McCain said in his first television appearance since losing the U.S. election.

Former Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin is amongst the next generation of leaders for the party, and the United States, John McCain said in his first television appearance since losing the U.S. election.

Speaking to late-night funnyman Jay Leno, McCain lauded the Alaska governor as a "great reformer."

"I couldn't be happier with Sarah Palin. And she's going to be a great governor and I think she will play a big role in the future of this country," McCain said.

He placed Palin in a "group of young governors," as well as some people in the Senate, "that I think are the next generation of leadership of our party."

A neophyte on the national scene when she was selected for the McCain ticket in August, Palin invited energy — and controversy — into the campaign, stirring up a publicity frenzy.

She has since come under fierce criticism for everything from her alleged spending sprees at the Republican National Committee's expense to her off-the-cuff comments made throughout the two-month campaign. The most recent attacks have come from unnamed aides within the McCain camp who have accused her of being a liability to the Republican ticket.

The Arizona senator, however, scoffed at the reported comments, saying there were dozens of people who worked with him on the campaign and none were ever called top advisers or high-ranking Republican officials.

While he admitted that Palin may have gone off-message on occasion, McCain was unequivocal in supporting his running mate.

"I'm sure that from time … look, we did a lot of things together a lot of these rallies and the people were very excited and inspired by her, and that's what really mattered, I think.

"These things go on in campaigns and you just move on. I'm just very proud to have had Sarah Palin and her family, a wonderful family."

McCain's television appearance Tuesday was his first since losing the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 4.

In the aftermath of his defeat, McCain joked that he had been sleeping like a baby.

"Sleep two hours, wake up and cry. Sleep two hours, wake up and cry," McCain quipped.

When asked why he thought he lost, McCain joked again, "I think it was a personality flaw," and avoided leveling hostility against any one event or person — including Palin or the victor, President-elect Barack Obama.

Despite his second failed bid for the U.S. presidency, McCain said he was grateful for the opportunity to run.

"It's a great honour, it's a great privilege, it's an incredible thing that I was able to do and I saluted, as you know, and admire and respect the winner, Senator — President-elect Barack Obama."

McCain, a Vietnam war veteran, appeared on television as the U.S. commemorated Veterans Day (Remembrance Day in Canada), marking his 14th appearance on the Tonight Show.