This year's presidential candidates made a record 110 late-night comedy show appearances, underlying the programs' importance in the race, AP reports. Half of the appearances occurred during the primaries, when the pack of candidates were vying for precious face-time with voters. Candidates came to prefer the banter—the best of which won endless repeats online—to grueling press corps questions, and savored the chance to woo the late-night demographic.
"It's a lot more risky, as Sarah Palin will attest, to interview with Katie Couric than it is with Jay Leno," a campaign strategist pointed out. John McCain led the pack with 17 appearances, but his most famous interview was the one he didn't give. At a crucial time, David Letterman harped about McCain's last-minute cancellation and reminded voters of his embarrassing campaign suspension. "The road to the White House runs through me," he warned.