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. Q, Atlanta

    McSame, McWar, McLiar, I like McFlipFlot-A-Lot or McGaffe-A-Lot.

    July 27, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  2. gotcha

    Oh, my goodness, the Obamanites are running scared. All this hoopla and he is still just a couple points ahead. You can tell when they start attacking Senator McCain, my darling, with the vilest words , that they are in deep doo doo. Obama is an arrogant little jerk and deserves to lose.

    July 27, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  3. Chuck Cardiff

    OK, let me see, Obama says that getting rid of affirmative action is "divisive". Has it occurred to him that affirmative action itself is divisive? Does he think people are stupid enough to believe it is just that the son of a Black physician from Manhattan receives preferential treatment in university admissions over the son of a White coal miner from West Virginia? Even more bizarre is that merely having a Hispanic last name should entitle someone to the same.

    Perhaps McCain believes, as the U.S. Supreme court has said, that affirmative action may have been wise in the past, but is not something that should endure forever.

    July 27, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  4. JR

    Of course he flip-flopped, it came out of his mouth didn't it.

    July 27, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  5. Turnabout is Fair Play

    Hey Kelly, what commercials are you talking about, the lie of a commercial shown by McInsane showing Obama playing basketball WITH THE TROOPS where McLame tryed to smear him in Germany and failed or the stupid one calling Obama a flip-flopper and attacking him when he was out of the country and McCrane said he'd run an honorable campaign and immediately went Karl Rove as soon as he realized Obama was RULING him overseas? Hmmm? IDIOT.

    July 27, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  6. James McDouglas

    McCain is a bigger flip flopper than John Kerry, and that's just his record.

    So now he embraces institutionalized racism... the kind that would bar women and minorities from achieving the highest offices in our country.

    In a country like ours, where racism runs rampant... whites should be careful about refuting equal opportunity laws... pretty soon they won't be the majority any longer.

    McCain and Republicans spend all day complaining that the media and Americans prefer Obama... and they demand equal time...

    but then they hypocritically show disdain for equality when it comes to hiring and making money.

    Typical Republican flip flopping hypocrisy. Racist hypocrisy at that.

    July 27, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  7. Jonathan, Hartford, CT

    I hope that not too few of those journalists nailed him on that. His interviews, today, have produced little but non-answers. He is way in over his head on most of these issues and he is going to be very frustrated and angry soon. Then the depression will set in. Where are his doctors and those close enough to tell him enough is enough. He has gone through too much in his life. He doesn't need this. He is very frail.

    July 27, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |


    July 27, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  9. Texas Hottie

    Your apathy is disgraceful. Go post your hopelessness on Fox.

    July 27, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  10. Wayne from Lawrenceville, ga

    Hail to the "Surge Protector"....or "MC Surge". McSame as shown that he is not genuine and cannot be trusted.

    July 27, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  11. James McDouglas

    Meanwhile... racists like John McCain and Republicans in general resent the fact that our universities are filled with Asians... simply because they're smarter, work harder, and have the money to pay for schooling.

    They want fewer Asians and more whites... but then they say they hate equal opportunity.

    Hypocritical racists.

    July 27, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  12. Jo Ann

    McCain has been flip flooping but the media just glazes over it. If it was Obama all of the media would be going over it over and over. What happen to McCain did not want to face the tough questions from the media today–just like him if he can't control the tempo he wants nothing to do with it. AND THIS IS WHO SO MANY SEEM TO WANT AS PRESIDENT SO SAD, WAKE UP PEOPLE.

    July 27, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  13. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Lance. Check what's in that koolade you're drinking. Obama has flip-flopped on:
    Iraq withdrawal
    The surge
    Union contributions being 'special interest' money
    Public financing
    Cuba embargo
    cracking down on employers of illegal immigrants
    the fence with Mexico
    decriminalization of marijuana
    mental distress as a valid abortion reason
    gun control
    Gov't eavesdropping
    Faith based initiatives
    and capital punishment.

    The above all have documented instances where he changed position. Many with flip flops occuring just months apart, when the 'new information' excuse doesn't work. Google Obama flip flops, you'll find even more.

    July 27, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  14. Monica, Texas

    McCain will go in whichever the way the wind is blowing.. A few weeks ago when he was in Pitts. ,PA he told the story of when he was a POW and was forced to tell the names of fellow soldiers he said he named the line up of the Steelers...later in Wis. he said he named Green Bay players when called on it he said he mis-spoke. How do you mis-speak about something like this, especially after you have written about it in your book...The media continues to make excuses for McCain and he claims the media is bias.

    July 27, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  15. R

    Give me a flip-flopper any day compared to stubborn-like Bush types who hold tight to bad policies given the evidence to the contrary. However, I like Barack's flip-flopping better and would be satisfied with it for the next 4 to 8 years.

    July 27, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  16. John

    I like Obama...But I hope he sees affirmative action for what it is. An unconstitutional stealing of rights from one and giving to another. It is amazing what lengths the elitists will go thru to support it, yet do nothing about the causes of disenfranchisement towards minorities. I'm a minority and I want education and opportunities for all, not a handful of gifts to a few of us at the expense of others. No child or worker should be discriminated against in this country; not white, black or otherwise. All fair-minded people who seek equality and justice should stand against it. I praise McCain for being man enough.

    July 27, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  17. Bill

    Affirmative action is morally wrong. Period..end of sentence. If you are qualified....regardless of color, religion, etc...you win. Otherwise, take steps to improve yourself instead of waiting for someone to "hand you" something. Much of our problems today are because we put people in positions WHEN THEY WERE NOT QUALIFIED! America, WAKE UP!

    July 27, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  18. ricardo williams

    I don't know what this Straight-Talk McCain is about, I think he gives straight answers based on who is talking to and what makes sense at the time. But wait! Isn't that Flip Flopping? It may just be a case of Alzheimers McCain.

    July 27, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  19. NinaK

    McCain is proving more and more each day he is in the wrong playing field. Senator Obama is playing PRO football and McCain is playing Little League. He keeps throwing the baseball at Obama when Obama is the quarterback.. McCain spends 90 percent of his time talking about my opponent this and my opponent that, and I am for this and I am not for that now, (but I'll change my mind in the next hour of so because I cannot remember what I said an hour ago) and my opponent is a bad guy, and my opponent is a bad guy, and my opponent is a bad guy. My opponent doesn't understand this or that, I am the ONLY ONE who understands EVERYTHING!! Look at me, look at me, I KNOW how to WIN wars!! I have never led or commanded during war, but because I was a POW, I am qualified to be your president....in fact YOU OWE IT TO ME!! Don't you mental recession whiners understand? I am athe ONLY one that understands EVERYTHING!! My opponent the you whiners don't know anything, don't understand anything!! You don't understand that I am going to be 72 soon and I have to be your president before I die, don't you whiners understand that?? Whining McCain!!

    July 27, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  20. linda from South Dakota

    i agree jason, but,, seems like all mccain does lately is complain and accuse,,,,,, this doesnt sound like a "sound" canidate,, does it??? my vote still goes for obama,,,, always will he makes sense and has the right ideas,,, unlike mccain=mcsame,,, he flip-flops more than i ever seen,,,,, gooo obama!!!!!08

    July 27, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  21. Doris,Memphis,TN

    This is typical of McCain. He changes his mind more than the
    average person changes their underwear. His own advisors
    are not standing up for him at this important time.
    "The Campaign of Whiners" from the Slanted Talk Express

    July 27, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |

    Obama is being ridiculed by the European press while CNN paints a rosy picture. The picture of Obama on Der Spiegel is much more insulting than the one on the New Yorker cover....and its a photograph of him.

    CNN's fawning coverage of this buffoon is anti-American. It does not fulfill its duty as free press. Instead of investigating and digging they lie at barry's feet like an obedient poodle. CNN, you are a joke.

    July 27, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  23. Bud

    John McCain is having trouble. Now it comes down to voter turn-out in the election. Some people will vote for McCain and some will just vote AGAINST Obama. I'm betting on Obama in a landslide. Real Change is Real Change and I'm not hearing anything new from McCain. He can have all the BBQ's in AZ he wants, but it will not change anything except more positions.

    July 27, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  24. Change Agent

    The McCain campaign is in complete freefall. They have the appearance of a group that has no idea what they are doing. One day they suggest Obama visit Iraq. The next day they criticize him for visiting Iraq. One day they criticize his 16-month timeline for leaving Iraq. The next day MaCain says it's a "pretty goog timetable". He opposes supports this one.., and on and on and on...

    This is the worst presidential campaign I've seen in 30 years of observing these things. No wonder we're starting to see the post-Europe bounce

    Latest Gallop: Obama 49%
    McCain 40%

    July 27, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  25. cora

    Well I know ntot to waste my vote. Thanks much.

    July 27, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
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