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. NoMcSame

    He just don't recall. OLD, Old,oLD,OlD,old,olD and ODD. McFace is OLD and don't RECALL. Is this what you want.

    July 27, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  2. sharon

    one big mistake that mccain did was to taunt obama to go on a foreign trip, "you got to go, you got to go, you got to go." so while obama is out there trying to build bridges with foreign leaders on your behalf, mccain just would not stop whining. mccain is a very nasty and angry man. most probablky, i think mccain has already forgotten that he taunted obama into going. mccain attacked obama every day at every opportunity for instance with attack ads and scurrilous remarks that obama would rather lose the war in order to win the campaign. mccain attacked obama day in day out and mccain is yet to tell us his agenda. honestly, mccain is a joke. god help us if mccain is elected president.

    July 27, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  3. Debby, NJ

    McShame the flip flopper appears yet again...his base is fuming!!!

    July 27, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  4. Walter

    If you can be blinded sided this way by George Stephanopoulos, you really don't have very much on the ball.

    When will the media begin, at long last, to focus on this man's instability?

    July 27, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  5. me

    Just listening to McSame on Wolf Blitzer – he is scary, scary scary! Could it be possible that America will really vote him in as next president?

    However, I listened to Obama on Meet the Press and was again impressed with his vision for america and the fact that he realizes that the USA needs to build good relationships if we hope to sort out many of our issues. Please vote Obama 08! McSame is just going to dish out the same nonsense as Bush.

    July 27, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  6. J

    All McCain does is attack Obama. He's an angry old man who thinks voters will believe anything he says. Pathetic...

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

    McCain's plan for the surge dramatically brought down the violence. How many kids would be dead if not for his strong push for the surge. How many lives has Obama's judgement saved since he's become a US senator? 0 Obama didn't want the surge to work, why? Because he's playing his poltical ego before young soldiers lives. He was hoping the surge would fail for political gain. He really is a sick little puppy. I think lives are the most important thing and so far it's McCain who has and is saving them, not Obama which makes all other issue unimportant.

    July 27, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  8. pc

    McCain flips on everything. He looks for opportunities to say something.

    July 27, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  9. red33,cedar rapids, ia

    Cut it out; quit trying to 'invent' things to knock McCain; the media already has a love affair with Obama; give McCain a break for a change. Be fair.

    July 27, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  10. Mike in Texas


    July 27, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  11. Harriett

    Watchng Election 2008 on CNN with Plitzer. my question is why did the CAPTION UNDER McCLAIN'S NMAE read: "NEXT PRESIDENT?"
    There are two candidates.

    July 27, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  12. Jason

    There it is folks, if u had any reason to not vote for John McCain this is it! When u look how this has benefitted alot of working single women. John McCain is wrong for the country!

    July 27, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  13. Marci

    What's wrong w/ changing your opinion on AA? I used to believe in AA but now I don't anymore. Why should Obama's kids, due solely to their skin color, have an automatic advantage applying to college over a poor, white girl who has had to overcome much more in her life? Obama's success is the evidence that AA is on its way out...

    July 27, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  14. Tracy

    Flip flop like: the 16 month timetable in Iraq, Recognizing that the real war is in Afghanistan, Abortion, oil drill will have a psychological effect, social security privatization, Obama's trip overseas, wanting to run a clean campaign, his pledge to stop 527's, etc. McCain in 2000 wouldn't vote for McCain in 2008

    P.S. He even flip flopped on his message to NAACP. I want to know what if he had said that in front of them.

    July 27, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  15. Dorian in NC

    Obama/Biden 08'


    July 27, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  16. Sue in MI

    Well, Kelly, we win more if we stick with the Democrats, who can make some real changes if we give them some real control in the Congress as well as the White House. Otherwise, we will still be in Iraq, Afghanistan, bombing Iran next January, and God knows where else McCain will decide to declare war. Do you ever hear him talk about peace and prosperity? No because his oil buddies love war for their prosperity.

    I'm voting Democratic, and I hope to God that Hillary is on the ticket.

    July 27, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  17. maynard hopkins wi

    thow it out we never needed it to start with affirmative action has been a big problem for manufacturing for many years get rid of it

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

    Jason: Your absolutely correct...difference being that McCain wants a conflict/attack on IRAN, he has stated so. I suggest you listen to him, then make your decision as to where you want America to go!

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

    oh, it's ok to flip-flop once in a while

    July 27, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  20. Brain


    July 27, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  21. tigerakabj

    Oh, yeah. This issue and about 134 others. I'm amazed at how the media is covering for McSenile. Like that time CBS took out parts of McCain's interview b/c he made critical error.

    Then add Bush tax cuts, MLK holiday, off-shore drilling, Afghanistan, GI Bill, etc. What a joke this guy is.

    I can't wait until Barack tears McSenile apart in the debate(s). Heck, there may only be one.

    July 27, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  22. pa

    obam is running on affirmative action now so why is he crying
    the blues for
    if obama didnt have it the dnc would gave it to him so he wins

    July 27, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  23. Leon

    It is time for a new image and direction for America and Americans. GO OBAMA.

    July 27, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  24. Linda

    What an idiot. Affirmative action has NEVER been a "quota" (the Supreme Court has already taken care of that....) and when he says stuff like that it just continues the misunderstanding that surrounds this issue.

    July 27, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  25. LaShanda

    Why didn't McSame appear at the Unity Conference? All the whining about the lack of media coverage and he doesn't even show up!

    July 27, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
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