April 5th, 2008
10:01 AM ET
4 years ago

McCain says he was wrong to oppose MLK day

ALT TEXT

McCain marked the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr's death Friday. (AP Photo)

(CNN) - Speaking at a ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s death, John McCain said Friday he was wrong to initially oppose a government holiday in memory of the civil rights leader.

"We can be slow as well to give greatness its due, a mistake I made myself long ago when I voted against a federal holiday in memory of Dr. King," McCain said during the rainy Memphis speech. "I was wrong and eventually realized that, in time to give full support for a state holiday in Arizona. We can all be a little late sometimes in doing the right thing, and Dr. King understood this about his fellow Americans."

The comments were met with audible boos in the audience, though the Arizona senator did draw applause at other moments in the speech.

McCain, then a first-term congressman, voted against creating a government holiday for King in 1983. On Thursday, he suggested he was unaware of King's legacy at the time.

"I voted in my first year in Congress against it and then I began to learn and I studied and people talked to me," he told reporters. "And I not only supported it but I fought very hard in my home state of Arizona for recognition against a governor who was of my own party."

McCain was a chief backer of a successful 1992 Arizona ballot referendum to mark the holiday.

In 2000, McCain said of his initial opposition was due to the fact that "it cost too much money, that other presidents were not recognized.”


Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (324 Responses)
  1. honkey white guy from cali

    He was wrong!!! very wrong!!!! but not the first think he is wrong on and will not be the last.!!

    April 4, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  2. Veterans Love Obama

    Why now...Oh that's right youre running for President. Now you realize that you were being rascist. I guess its OK then. Still can't scratch the back of your head can you Grandpa Munster?

    April 4, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  3. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    Do not be a wimp McCain.
    The reason you were against MLK day in Arizona is because of finances.
    Why pay state employees for paid time off for an additional holiday in February just because it is populist?
    Any employee who wanted time off to observe the day–is entitled to it under the rules.
    There is no need for a paid holiday to recognize MLK.
    This waffling really pisses us off John.
    Be a man..don't be a liberal.

    April 4, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  4. dEMABRAT

    He sure was! Think of all the days off his state workforce lost!

    April 4, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  5. Common Sense

    "In 2000, McCain said of his initial opposition was due to the fact that "it cost too much money, that other presidents were not recognized.”"

    Oh really? Tell me Mr. McCain. When exactly was MLK Jr. President? What a buffoon. He should be at White Glen Acres, taking medication twice a day to keep his blood oxegenated.

    April 4, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  6. Snipers don't miss

    shameless

    April 4, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  7. Corey, Maryland

    Im curious as to why he didn't want to support MLK day. Just wondering...

    Obama Richardson 08!!!

    April 4, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  8. Veterans Love Obama

    In 1983 you weren't aware of Kings legacy? I know you were in a tiger cage at the time, but did you crack a book, newspaper, or anything once you got back. If you're admitting you were that out of touch, I'm afraid your run for the highest office in the land is doomed.

    April 4, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  9. no more republicans!

    Of course you just happen to "realize" you were wrong, during the elections when the media is all over the story!!

    April 4, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  10. Veterans for Obama

    Do you think that cop holding the umbrella wanted to bop in the head for his insulting comments?

    April 4, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  11. JERRY

    DUH...OF COURSE HE'S SORRY...IT'S A CAMPAIGN YEAR

    April 4, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  12. Ifeanyi Azubike Houston Texas

    I don't blame him, age has a way of playing tricks on you. You see what others see perhaps slighly late. May be he will see he is wrong about Iraq in 2020.

    April 4, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  13. Uncle Sam

    It took a lot of guts for John McCain to go before that crowd in Memphis and apologize for having not recognized the MLK holiday. An imperfect servant he is, but this is another example of why he is the only great man in the race.

    April 4, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  14. Pete

    Oh man, this dude voted against MLK day? Did he vote to succeed too?

    April 4, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  15. April in Texas

    Wow I am a democrat and I find it wonderful hes admiting to his mistakes.

    Obama 08

    April 4, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  16. John - Maryland

    Reformed racist.....What a polical move.

    Obamanation

    April 4, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  17. Alex H

    Well that's something you don't hear every day... "I was wrong". I don't know why they booed at him while he's saying he was wrong to have done it... that's a little unnecessary.

    April 4, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  18. Mandi Locke

    I just don't understand how he could have EVER opposed it. I'm glad he finally saw the light, but it was not a judgement call that did it. He was under heavy political pressure.

    April 4, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  19. kathleen

    Well, you did, Mr.McCain. You thought you were better than most
    people then, and you think you are better than most people now.
    You and Cindy. And your cronies make me sick.

    NO McCain

    All for Obama, my man. Only winner in the crowd.
    OBAMA 2008. No to Edwards. He waited too long and it should be over for him.

    April 4, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  20. norb

    He voted against a MLK day. Give me a Keating high five John.

    April 4, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  21. Stephanie, PA

    Too much, too little, too late. He was "unaware of King's legacy"? Stop it, Senator...please, just stop.

    April 4, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  22. Phil From VA

    Wow, he is sorry. The only thing he can talk about is his military back ground. The other things like, dating a stripper, drinking, committing adultry etc should remain under cover.

    April 4, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  23. Seenu Subbu

    You wouldn't be admitting to this "mistake" if you weren't to run for these Presidential elections, would you, McCain?
    You are a cheapskate.

    April 4, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  24. jyh1920

    Did her realize this when he decided to run for President or after?

    April 4, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  25. sozzi

    Too Late, buddy.

    April 4, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
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