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. KMAN

    John McCain does not flip-flop! If you don't believe me ... just ask him or any number of his supporters ... you can be sure you will get the 'straight-talk' from them ... NOT!!

    July 27, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  2. Crush Rush

    Lets just call him "catfish McCain".I think he will drop out soon for health reasons.

    July 27, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  3. Brian

    Wow, this is great news. Republicans often take the European-American vote for granted, but it's nice to see that one is taking a concrete action. It's interesting that Obama seems so keen on alienating the European-American vote (which he needs to win) by opposing this initiative.

    July 27, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  4. Holden Litgo

    McCain has flipped on everything he's ever stood for in the past in order to pander to the extreme right wing of his party. He's not a leader, he's a follower.

    July 27, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  5. Lone Libertarian

    McCain has the right to change his mind.... Just as Obama had the right to change his mind over the war in Iraq from "we must leave immediately" to "a slow withdrawal of troops" is best.

    Pick one. Either they both flip-flop, or neither one does.

    July 27, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  6. Dwight

    in short, open mouth insert foot. we will see him do this alot more coming soon.

    he is showing his age,

    July 27, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  7. DOH!

    WHAT? HUH? tap tap tap IS THIS THING ON?

    Will the real John McCain stand up?

    July 27, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  8. Jason

    All politicians flip flop. None are 100% trust-worthy. A politician will say/do whatever it takes to get elected and keep their position...that's the nature of the job. They do this by pandering to whoever can impact the security of their position at any given time. One week it could be Hispanics, the next blacks, the next conservatives...you get the picture. Why do you think they never give a direct answer to a question, but rather talk for 10 minutes about nothing in response to a question? If you have put your faith in Obama or McCain, then you are bound for disappointment. They will betray you at some point, guaranteed. Your job is to determine who will be able to stay within your acceptabl betrayal threshold for 8 possible years.

    July 27, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  9. Monica, Texas

    This is just like when McCain opposed MLK Holiday too....

    July 27, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  10. mike in caroline va

    johnny mcliar sounds more like that idiot d. dumbsfeld every day. he just doesn't have a clue whats really going on or whats going WRONG in america. according to his voting records 95% of his EXPERIENCE, at least in the last seven and a half years, is all very bad and full of very poor judgement. it sure makes him look like a unic republican more than any maverick.

    July 27, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  11. Kelly

    Obama is just as big of a joke. Has noone seen the commercials or listened to him either because he is just as big of a flip-flopper as McCain. There is no real good "winner" in terms of the presidency and honestly believe this election is going to be a joke. We don't win either way.

    July 27, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  12. Sean

    I used to have a lot of respect for McCain, but this campaign has erased most of it unfortunately. He's flipped on a huge number of issues, and then has the audacity to accuse Obama of being a flip-flopper.

    I'm fine with people changing their minds as they learn more about an issue, or as the situation itself evolves, but McCain seems to have been reversing himself for political gain on everything from offshore drilling, to affirmative action, to the Bush tax cuts.

    I truly appreciate the more nuanced and considerate approach Obama has taken to his campaign, and his positions on the issues that face all of us every single day.

    July 27, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  13. Tony, Miami

    my friend time to enjoy your retirement

    July 27, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  14. Andrew

    Did anyone of you read the article. It states he supports the proposal to get rid of quotas; it states he did the same thing in 1998. So, just because Obama mentions the word flip-flop McCain is automatically a liar? Sometimes reading past the headline might help some of you.

    July 27, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  15. pam Eugene OR

    McCain has flip flopped so many time he doesn't even know what he stands for. He needs to go to a rest home and let the smart people run America.

    July 27, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  16. Johnny McC

    I'm a maverick! MAVERICK!!!!

    July 27, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  17. Memphis

    Mac did'nt flip--he's just a flop.

    July 27, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  18. Pam

    McCain's campaign won't say if they stand behind his announcement?? How does that work? Don't they have to stand behind whatever he says? Who's in charge in the McCain camp?

    July 27, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  19. Zion

    Kelly, I understand what you are saying, but the reason why politicians in America do not have to be straight forward is because we do not hold their feet to the fire. We allow news entertainment such as Cnn, Fox, Msnbc, to "hold their feet to the fire." (Never mind that the major media sources are in cahoots with the so called stations that "cover the news.") We complain on blogs, but never organize. Even our presidential debates are jokes. We are one of the only nations where the citizens do not really interact with their elected officials during debates. We are responsible for the creation of a George W. Bush. We are responsible for the creation of a VP Dick Cheney, and so on and so forth. Complacency is our nation's issue.

    July 27, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  20. Vato

    Mc Bush or Macsame often claimed he knows how to win a war and how to catch Bin laden. If he is genuine and honest, why can't he do it now as his capacity as the US Senate rather than wait till he becomes president. This shows he cannot be trusted. He just want war and and the American people cannot afford to go to another war. We want Barack who can shape the image of US in the word and the economy. We do not want a prisident who cannot us computers or knows nothing about economics.

    July 27, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  21. Marj,Paso Robles, Cal

    No to BO.

    July 27, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  22. RL

    No matter what spews from All polititions mouth, they are still more interested in Their welfare and Their families. The rest of us are just here to pay taxes and Live With It..Shame on them all.

    July 27, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  23. raz

    obama doesn't have a clue he will hurt blacks more then help them ,they will be sorry i bet my life saving on it.

    July 27, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  24. Tim Herrmann

    It is truly scary what you hear whenever McCain talks - I'm not saying Obama is perfect, but I really think the choice here is obvious.

    Another thing that has really caught my eye recently, however, is all the media hype over everything. The title "McCain Flips" implies that it is an act of outrage if a politician changes his/her mind. It is not inherently bad when a politician changes their mind. It is bad if it is a manipulative move in order to win votes. However, Obama's stance on Iraq, in my opinion, never shifted over the last month or so. He simply said he would listen to what good intelligence would tell him. It is worse, in my mind, to say that you are blindly going to withdraw in "x" number of months than to say "the goal is x number of months, but I will also listen to intelligence." Do people want a president that doesn't listen to intelligence and instead makes slipshod decisions based off of air-filled talking points that lack detail, precision, and nuance?

    I hope not...

    July 27, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  25. pc

    McCain really doesn't have a clue... It's sad!

    Go Obama – Yes We Can!!!

    July 27, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
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