July 28th, 2008
06:23 AM ET
10 years ago

Did McCain 'flip' on affirmative action measure?

John McCain's comments on affirmative action led Obama to charge that he 'flipped' his position.

John McCain's comments on affirmative action led Obama to charge that he 'flipped' his position.

CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) - Sen. John McCain said Sunday he supports an Arizona ballot initiative aimed at ending race- and gender-based preference programs - an announcement his rival cast as a reversal from his previous stance.

Sen. Barack Obama - speaking to an auditorium full of minority journalists at the Unity conference - accused McCain of having "flipped."

But McCain's own campaign refused to say whether it stands by the candidate's announcement that he supports the ballot initiative.

In an interview broadcast on ABC's "This Week," host George Stephanopoulos asked McCain if he supports a referendum on the ballot in his home state "that would do away with affirmative action."

"Yes, I do," he responded. "I do not believe in quotas. But I have not seen the details of some of these proposals. But I've always opposed quotas."

Stephanopoulos asked, "But the one here in Arizona you support?"

"I support it, yes," replied McCain.

McCain did not indicate that he had a standing opposition to such initiatives, or that he was changing his stance by supporting the initiative in Arizona.

Contacted by CNN, McCain's campaign sent a statement from spokesman Tucker Bounds.

"John McCain has always been opposed to government- mandated hiring quotas, because he believes that regardless of race, ethnicity or gender, the law should be equally applied. He has long stood for the protection of civil rights and equal opportunity for all Americans," the statement said.

But pressed about whether McCain indeed supports the Arizona initiative, the campaign would not answer. In 1998, McCain called a similar ballot measure "divisive."

Obama told attendees to the Unity conference that he was "disappointed... that John McCain flipped and changed his position. I think in the past he had been opposed to these kinds of... initiatives as divisive. And I think he's right."

Civil rights leader Al Sharpton, a prominent Obama supporter, issued a statement accusing McCain of having made "a stunning reversal on his respectable record on affirmative action."

soundoff (663 Responses)
  1. EJO

    This is no suprise coming from a man that opposed the MLK holiday. Afirmative action I agree in umfair, but sadly, its still required to level the playing field too many of our states.

    July 27, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  2. Mk

    Having watched the interview with McCain I was amazed at his inability to articulate anything. He stumbles, gets lost in what he wants to say, and no matter what the question , be it mortgage crisis, gas prices, the economy or gay couple adoption rights he somehow managed to direct the conversation to Iraq and more war talk.
    I wonder what McCain would do if he didn't have Obama to criticize? Might he actually have to say something substantive?

    July 27, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  3. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    McCain does not live in the current world. He is just plain out of touch. Our focus has to be on the future for our children and grandchildren. 1970 mentality and politics are not going to achieve that.

    It is time to turn leadership over to the next generation. Obama is the right one at the right place and right time.

    July 27, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  4. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    affirmative action is moronic and always was

    July 27, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  5. RJ, CA

    McCain is right. It's time to get rid of quotas, aka affirmative action. It was necessary 40 years ago in order to bring about parity for minority groups. It has now turned into a mindset that promotes mediocrity rather than the pursuit of excellence. It is no longer realistic or productive.

    July 27, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  6. Tim

    Flip Flop McLoser!!!

    July 27, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  7. Turnabout is Fair Play

    What else is new with McStain? He will say whatever sounds like it will get him votes but as soon as he forgets he was for it, he will say he is against it. Can there be any more evidence of who the flip-flopper is in this election contest?!

    July 27, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  8. Texas trail puppy!

    What a Guy after a week long tour of Foreign Countries boosting America's Image he is already back to work on a Sunday for that matter meanwhile McSame is having a BBQ at his Ranch.

    July 27, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  9. TRUTH

    Obama & Oprah are te biggest flip floppers. This Dem family for McCain08 H .Clinton 12 PUMA

    July 27, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  10. Michael J

    Obama was speaking to a crowd of journalists today? Wow, I thought he was talking to a room full of his supporters, but I guess they are the same thing.

    July 27, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  11. blaising

    Offense baby!! Knock Mccreepy-Bush '08 out while theyr'e down. Don't let 'em up off the mat.

    While McCreepy's takin' another weekend off, you get back to the USA and immediately pounce...I like that!!

    July 27, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  12. jonathan, naperville IL

    one of over 70 times mccain has changed his stance. all for political gain. anybody care to see the others?

    July 27, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  13. ginololoya

    Sir Obama has a media machine of people that just love him, no matter what he has done or not. Sir Obama could have literally killed someone, or been in bed with some hot body other than his wife, or he could have literally accepted bribes, these men and women just love Obama wildly that they have forgotten the principles of this country in favor of "THE CHANGE" they are looking for. Message of "CHANGE" can be as much delusive as the life on Mars as in the Moon. It just does not exist. To think of a change in a machinery that has cropped up from three centuries is thinking of turning a man into a woman and vice versa. Again, looking at Sir Obama he does not give that impression to me as he is really going to change much, anyways.

    SIR OBAMA machine populates all media responses and therefore, I do not write much any more.

    July 27, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  14. Rob

    There's a big fuss about Obama's lack of poll "bounce" during his trip, but today's Gallup has him at 9% up, the highest since Gallup began polling!

    MacCain, in his bids to get attention, has been making a fool out of himself and alienating moderates in order get the headlines. Now that Obama's back he'll begin to answer these accusations and will make meat out of MacCain.

    He'll stay 7-9 points up through the Olympics.

    July 27, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  15. Kevin

    I'm from the UK and I would just like to thank Europe for allowing ourselves to get used by a US presidential candidate on his way to the Whitehouse. Well done.

    July 27, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  16. JC

    Not really sure where the Obama camp is going with this one. Highlighting McCain's support to a ballot initiative that eliminates preferential treatment with quotas doesn't appear to make much sense. Democrats like quotas while Republicans and alot of Independents don't. Who is Obama targetting with his message?

    July 27, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  17. Anna

    Aw, shucks. It's never fair to accuse a candidate of changing his opinion during election season.

    July 27, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  18. Oregon for OBAMA!

    Surprise surprise... and they dare to call Obama a flip-flopper... McCain has changed SO much in the last 10 years, I had high hopes for him in 2000 and 04', but the man has lost my respect now.

    PS., I am an independent pulling for Obama, do not beleive the GOP bashers that appear on this message board. They are wolf in sheep clothing, if even most independents are rooting for Obama, you can just imagine what the percentage of democrats that root for him are. Do not beleive the polls. Most of my affiliates/friends are Republican, and a majority of them are either not voting, voting for Ron Paul, or voting for Obama. Not a single one has said they would vote for McCain.

    Change is coming, three more months of this BS bickering and the judgment day will be here. Is USA going to change the world for the better, or will it continue the same failed policies of the last 8 years?

    July 27, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  19. Texas Hottie

    In the same interview, McCain also denies saying the word "timetable" regarding troops withdrawal from Iraq.

    Last week , I believe it was on Friday, he was quoted saying as such and Stephanopoulos reminds him of it. Finally, he concedes by saying..."if I said it. . ."
    How do you NOT remember things you've said when you know that the PRESS of all people, are around?

    Does McCain think we're all dopes?

    July 27, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  20. backwoods joe

    Hey fellow bigots.... how's a bout that heady negro running for president of these U-ni-ted States. What nerve. What an ego. What arrogance!

    That's exactly why we gotta end this affirmative action and all them equal opportunity programs. Before you know it these negros 'll be running the country and dating our women.

    July 27, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  21. Bill From Florida

    I used to enjoy watching CNN, Fox, MSN

    I don't even bother to turn them on anymore, I am so sick of hearing
    about Obama it makes my stomach turn. I am so glad when he was
    on his tour, he at least got to visit the MANGER where he was born.

    July 27, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  22. TheWeaselMcCain

    McCain supporters are FoxNews' henchmen who will spin a turd into a knight and shining armor.

    The Flip-Flop Nation will not make it this time around.

    July 27, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  23. Doris,Memphis,TN

    John McCain and his advisors have become a
    "Campaign of Whiners".

    July 27, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  24. Equality for all

    The time has come to end affirmative action.
    It takes a real leader to say so.

    July 27, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  25. Dan, TX

    The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, where researchers have tracked network news content for two decades, found that ABC, NBC and CBS were tougher on Obama than on Republican John McCain during the first six weeks of the general-election campaign.


    July 27, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
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