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)


    July 27, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  2. Michele Hussein, Oregon

    Lone Libertarian: Obama has always stated that he would remove the troops carefully at a rate of so many per month, starting immediately. He has not changed on this and anyone who has listened, would know this apart from the spin doctors.

    July 27, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  3. Ford

    I'm amazed that McCain can hold a position long enough to decide between soup or salad–both of which appear to describe the present condition of his mind.

    July 27, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  4. shannon

    McCain flips on everything. I am glad CNN is finally reporting on one of them. He has not media scrutiny on any of his gaffes, outright rewriting of history, votes, or positions.

    July 27, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  5. Wisconsin

    Lone Libertarian: Obama never changed his stance.

    July 27, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  6. Wisconsin

    CNN post my comments!!!

    Wasn't McCain all mad and saying Obama was flip-floping?

    McCain is a lier and a scumbag who can't stand up to his own demands.

    McCain will find some way to talk about Obama instead of addressing this.

    July 27, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  7. Noakes

    For crying out loud – 90% of the comments left on Ticker stories are immature, full of logical fallacy and entirely generated from a deeply entrenched (and thus blind and deaf) partisan position. Speaking to the majority here, you people need to turn off the computer and go outside to play. Get some hobby other than posting attacks and counter-attacks as if your ill-founded and unsubstantiated blather will somehow change someone's mind or shift the balance of power in this election. News Flash – aside from your family and maybe your friends, nobody gives a fig what you think, including CNN. They open these comments because the illusion of a bully pulpit keeps you coming back for more, which drives up their advertising revenue. Just stop it. All of you. You're ruining the whole election!

    July 27, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  8. Val from MA

    Obama should start counting his own flip-flops. The majority of us know that Obama has flipped and flopped on every single issue he ran on during the primary season. Shame on you Obama.

    July 27, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  9. Pat

    Kelly In my opinion, we will have a WIN WIN situation as long as we keep the Senile, War Mongering, Dictating, Republicans out of the White House! I'd vote for Bugs Bunny over a Republican who cares so little about their Nation they sold half of it to China and the other half to Iraq leaving nothing for the citizens who gave them their trust and hard earned tax dollars. There are flip floppers, obsessive flip floppers and caniving flip floppers. The Republicans answer to the last two.

    Even Arnold Swazzineger sp? Is now dictating what Californians can eat!!! Meantime his Party is sending your hard earned dollars to Iraq so they can enjoy the same Freedom and Democracy as Americans!
    A Nation can't be governed by Hitler and Ghandi at the same time! I'll eat trans fats when I want to and if the Republicans don't like it than they can pay my grocery bill! they owe me that for the Health Care Program they don't feel I'm entitled to!

    July 27, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  10. xddy4u

    "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".
    You sound like someone whose fallen between the cracks. To you neither candidate answers your problem. Do you have a job?
    Anyone that can't see the difference between Obama and McCain
    policies really have a problem. As far as McCain is concerned this is just another flip-flop.

    July 27, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  11. NC Resident

    Kelly shove a piece of tissue up your nose and don't forget to breathe. The only joke is you. If you feel that way don't vote and don't blog about it either cause you show your ignorance.

    July 27, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  12. Dominique

    True affirmative action programs are not quotas. It is pretty disingenuous of Sen. McCain to conflate the two, and it is pretty poor that CNN does not call him on it.

    July 27, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  13. Oregon for OBAMA!

    Kelly, on the contrary, and majority of Americans can sense it. Heck, the world can sense it.

    Obama will be one in a lifetime president, who undoubtedly, if elected, will show the rest of the world that US still has integrity. The current administration has done as good of a job as they possibly can, destroying American image overseas and further feeding the negative stereotype of a bully who could care less about others.

    I know you probably refuse to see anything good about Mr. Obama right now, the hate is too strong. But as the years will roll by, you might just realise that this man has bettered the lives of not only Americans, but of the world as a whole.

    Progress, change, its coming. The WORLD can feel it, and is excited.

    July 27, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  14. BGIV in NC

    He can't remember.

    July 27, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  15. pam Eugene OR

    McCain looks so confused in all the photos of him.

    July 27, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  16. Skyview

    Flip-flopping is nothing new for McCain. He was once pro-choice, now he is pro-life; he was once for affirmative action, now he is against it; he was once for gay marriage, now he is against it; he was once against the Bush Tax Cuts, now he is for them; he was once against off-shore drilling, now he is for it; he was once against additional troops in Alfghanistan, now he is for more troops; he was once against a time-line for withdrawal of troops from Iraq, now he is for a time-line, based on conditions. I wonder if anytime soon we will hear that McCain "direct talks with iran"? And finally, McCain was once against the religious right, but now he is its best advocate.

    July 27, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  17. non-white & non-black person

    this GOP flip-flop talk will never get coverage because most news media are Republican in nature. And we currently live in a Orwellian society.

    July 27, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  18. ET from OMAHA

    I prefer good jugment from an Inexperienced candidate than stupidities and confusion from a so called "experience" candidate.

    July 27, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  19. non-white & non-black person

    Kelly, you sound like a bitter white woman who voted for Hillary and is still not over it!

    How is Obama a joke??? He is accepted by every country except half of the racist americans who are afraid of his color and name. Get a life, a black president can be equally or better than Reagan or Lincoln

    July 27, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  20. NotALemming

    Affirmative Action is a sham policy, and ANYONE that supports it (read: Barrack Obama) is a racist and doesn't deserve to be in elected office.

    July 27, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  21. B Jiggy

    I watched McCain's interview today, he attacked Senator Obama on every single question just about. And this is supposed to be a man of honor? He should have learned from Senator Clinton that taking the low road will not get u anywhere this year. Meanwhile, Senator Obama hardly mentioned McCains name in his interview or was that just my observation? And by the way, George Bush had experience too...look where that got us? 🙂

    Go Democrats 🙂

    July 27, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  22. James Gilson

    I agree with McCain. This program in reality states that a person is known not to have the ability to get what they want but the program is geared to give it to them.

    A person should prepare for the opprotunity and not have it as a gift.

    July 27, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  23. Larry/TX

    I don't know. Remember he voted against the MLK holiday...so this is at least consistent with that.

    July 27, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  24. Jason

    I'm glad a topic other than the war was discussed. The war(s) is the only thing he knows; and that's the only thing he wants reporters to discuss. He's a joke when it comes to important issues on this land, such as, unemployment, crime, healthcare, education, innovation, discrimination, and much more. Furthermore, he still hasn't given a definitive answer to why our troops were sent to Iraq instead of Afghanistan. Wars are expensive, and the longer you stay in them, the longer your funds continue to deplete, causing an increase in taxes, prices, and unemployment. THANKS McWar, I meant, McCain.

    July 27, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  25. kevin

    that's your only comeback huh kelly. Wow, we are in trouble

    July 27, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
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