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. Interracial Voter

    You mean the same way he flip-flopped on VP choices all this week? Does it even matter?

    July 27, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  2. Daniel, VA

    Cnn, What happened to ym earlier message. You should be fair to publish all comments. Who are you to moderate and delete my message while you publish all liberal comments here. Get a life.

    July 27, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  3. PaulC

    If anyone was interested they could find dozens of flip-flop by McBush.

    It is unfortunate but I don't think that the American voters can bring themselves to vote for Obama. When they get in that booth they will be compelled to vote for McBush regardless.

    July 27, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  4. Brain

    He claim audicious of audicious but Obama should not have the audicity.....

    July 27, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  5. Carol, Lansing MI

    "Did McCain 'flip' on affirmative action measure?"

    Yes, 69 flip flops and counting........

    July 27, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  6. david becker

    If people are dumb enough to elect McCain with his age,faulty memory,appointing more losers to the Supreme Court and as his economic advisor Gramm(we are all just winners) the people deserve another four year of Bush agenda.Just ask yourself when you voted for Bush twice-have you lost your job,house,taxes for most are really lower and how about the war and the gas and the environment.If you vote for Old John then don't complain because it will be too late.

    July 27, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  7. Machiavelli; Baton Rouge, LA

    Yes, McCain has the right to change his mind just as Obama does. Yes, politicians will say what is expedient to appease their constituents. However, it is McCain who uses the old Republican adage that his opponent is a flip flopper. Now he has to eat his own words. He criticized Obama for not making a trip to Iraq and not being keen on foreign aafairs, but when Obama foreign trip was met with such celebrity fanfare, as opposed to McCain's, McCain criticized the trip as being a political move by Obama. This old geezer needs to shut up, stop criticizing Obama and get on with the business of running his campaign.

    July 27, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  8. chris

    affirmative action is for the weak.

    July 27, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  9. Knoxville, Tn

    Everyone needs to realize that Affirmative Action is not just for AA. It is for all minorities and this includes WOMEN. So, if you are siding with John McCain and you are a mother, daughter, aunt or sister you should think twice. If he is now saying he is not supporting Affirmative Action coupled with the way he votes on women's issues we are in some trouble. Not to mention that our current President is trying to say that using birth control pills is the same as having an abortion. Please people do your research before more damage is done.

    July 27, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  10. Not McDrain

    If I hear him rant on the surge one more time, I'll faint. Even if the surge was a brilliantly strategized maneuver, (and not a mere coincidence of other factors at work) What else can he lay claim to??? Certainly NOT good judgment. He flubbed that when he failed to discuss anything else! I can't figure out how this guy emerged as the Repugnant nominee.

    July 27, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  11. Craig

    Both candidates are going to flip a lot, however it has been documented that McCain has done it many more times. As to what Lone Libertarian said about both of them flip flopping. There is a difference from going one side to the complete opposite and what Obama did in your example which is changing from the extreme to a more settle approach. For your comparison to make any since you would have had to say Obama then said we need to stay in Iraq for as long as McCain wants.
    I find this funny, he has done similar things with his stance on Gay Marriage, Off shore Oiling, Taxes and more.
    He even tries to make it seem like he is better with taxes which he isn't for 80% of Americans. Obama's ideas do increase taxes but only for a small minority and the rest actually get lowered taxes aint that kind of funny.

    July 27, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  12. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    "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..."

    McCain can not remember where he stands on what issues on any given day ... remember Viagra? He forgot he had voted with insurance companies twice already on that issue ... the ol' dear in the headlight's stare was scary from someone who wants to be President.

    He simply does not know which end is up these days .... too bad: so sad.

    July 27, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  13. Oh Boy!!??

    Kelly, The commercials, are blinding you.

    July 27, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  14. pb

    McCain is the most ruthless politician in Washington. His lies of running an honorable campaign went out of the window when he began losing. He is tired and his ideas are tired. He will say and do anything to win!. He has berated Obama for any issue whether its true or not...he does not care if the accusations are true or not, he knows that he probably will not be called on the carpet for his lies. His comments sounds deranged. This is not who I want for a president...deep down do you? He pushed and pushed for Obama to go overseas and when he saw the positive attention that he was receiving around the world, he began his smear tactics. He is a mean, angry old man who is not worthy to be a president of anything. He does not use sound judgement and forgets things that he has previously stated. In one of his many tired speeches, he says that he knows how to win wars. What war has he won? He was captured in Viet Nam! How can this qualify him to be Commander in Chief...this was over 40 years ago. You know that if he won he would be a one time president. We Americans have too many issues for a one timer!!

    July 27, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  15. Clinton/McCain

    Did Obama flip on public financing?
    Did Obama flip on Iraq withdrawl?
    Did Obama flip on NAFTA?
    Did Obama flip on public financing?
    Did Obama flip on the DC gun ban?
    Did Obama flip on FISA?

    Boy oh boy. Barack should be called "Both-ways-Barack"

    July 27, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  16. zorro

    McCain is older than Great Grandpa. He misspoke again. He's already missing a bag full of bearings. His well is almost dry. Senile America speeding to the future is akin to a death wish.

    July 27, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  17. Danel

    He was asked about that very same issues today with Wolf Blitzer and McCain said that he doesn't know much about them? Say WHAT?!!
    John McCain was invited to appear with Barack Obama at the Unity minority journalist convention today he decline. What that says to you? That was an opportunity for him to say it face to face with Barack but he chickened out. To much for the straight talk. I think it's just that so called straight talki with no substance.

    July 27, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  18. California Gold

    McCain can not escape his voting record. He is a hard nose right winger when he wants that corner's support and wants to appear tough. Fact is he is against affirmative action measures. He is a die hard elitist.

    July 27, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  19. paul oregon

    does the american public want a leader or a whinner in office?

    July 27, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  20. Lourdes

    Just add it to the list...

    he has flipped on immigration, on Bush tax cuts, his relationship to the "agents of intolerance" –the religious right - who are now prominent advisors, oil drilling, privatization of social security, abortion rights in the cases of rape and incest, the estate tax, and on and on (for a complete list, just google "mccain flip flops into your search engine....the info is out there and can easily be confirmed!). These are HUGE and SIGNIFICANT policy shifts, not refinements of policy. This man cannot be trusted. He is the "riskier" candidate by far.

    July 27, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  21. Torianto


    July 27, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  22. Vicente

    This guy will say anything to get elected. This is more of the same political games of the past 8 years.

    July 27, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  23. Obamacan

    MCBush, Mcsame and Mcwar doesnt know what his stand was, is adn will be. He enjoys attacking Obama. Can he speak in front of 200,000 people in any part of this world. Noway. he will not find 200 people to listen to him.

    July 27, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  24. Michele Hussein, Oregon

    The interesting term above "the European-American" votes that Obama will lose are the ones who will not vote for a black man anyway. Those who support Obama are not in 100% agreement with him at all times, but still see him as the one we need at this point in history. Personally, I still see a need for a form of affirmative action.

    Veterans get extra points on job applications in affirmative action. Wonder if McCain will stiff them again?

    Just this past week at a town hall in Dover, NH, Senator McCain said we should ration care for veterans, by directing the VA to focus on those veterans who sustained injuries as a "direct result of combat."
    Veterans from 18 states sent a letter to McCain reminding him that this would be a retreat from a promise we've made to veterans ever since 1930 – that no matter how or when they received service-connected injuries, they would receive timely and quality care.

    July 27, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  25. McCain=the draft

    McCain acts just like my relative with Alzheimer's. I swear!

    July 27, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27