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. Toby Hill

    Good for McCain! Affirmative action has outlived its usefulness. We've lost generations of possibilities because less qualified individuals have received special treatment.
    Obama may very well be able to perform the duties of President but there will always be the questions of whether he got to this point on the back of affirmative action and received special treatment through certain positions he has held.

    July 27, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  2. Mai

    It does not take a Harvard graduate to know that the present affirmative action laws are racist and need to be eliminated from the books. Both candidates need to promise to change them.

    July 27, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  3. Hojo

    Responding to Lone Liberterian's comments above, Obama NEVER said that we needed to leave Iraq immediately and you know it. Quit making false statements about Obama in an attempt to justify McCain's many changeable positions on almost every issue.

    July 27, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  4. Concerned Citizen

    Mccain is being adviced by Rove and company. They tell him "ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK!"

    Mccain wants to incite racial hatred now that he knows he won't get the Black, Latino vote. This way, he figured he'll sway the few racist, usually uneducated former HIllary supporters, you know, those seemingly militant folks who despise Obama and threaten to support Mccain.

    In truth, Mccain is too old to be President.

    July 27, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  5. obamacrat

    off-shore drilling, bush tax-cuts, Iraq withdrawl time-table......just added to the end of an ever growing list

    July 27, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  6. NinaK

    Of the two, Senator Obama certainly has the demeanor, intelligence, vision, character, wisdom, leadership qualities and financial know how to lead our country. McCain on the other hand looks like a wary toad and appears very insecure, nothing genuine about this guy, he lies, he slanders, and he makes false accusations....guess that is how he has lived his entire life and doesn't know any different. You know the idiom, you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. He fails to answer questions directly! After making terrible comments about Senator Obama, McCain responded that he wasn't questionion Obama's patriotism , he was questioning his judgement. This response had nothing to do with what McCane said of Obama, that Obama sell out his country to get the nomination, words to that effect. Then stresses how HE is so patriotic!! McCain reached the grade of Captain in the U.S. Navy, that is a junior officer. If he was an outstanding person, how come he did not go higher in grade in his 20 years of seravice?? Looks to me McCain was McMediocre at best.

    July 27, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  7. Hate to Break It To You

    Don't care!

    July 27, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  8. colene

    i see this election as a win if we can get the troops home or some of them because it seems as if we stay at war somewhere at any given time. i do not want the united states to bring the draft back. if mccain is president i am willing to bet that it will have to come back. i hate for anyone to die for any reason but for our dependence on oil is just not acceptable.

    July 27, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  9. The Truth

    McCain also voted against MLK Day in his state SEVERAL TIMES. Anyone who in good conscience hates or is against MLK day is a PURE UNADUTERATED RACIST.

    July 27, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  10. Will, NJ

    "Yes I'd like to get a John McCain "Maverick" 2000 model please"

    "Oh I'm sorry we only sell the 2008 models now"

    "Really how are those?"

    "I don't know what to tell you, every time you turn it on there's a really annoying whining sound coming from under the hood. The navigation is all messed up and keeps pointing right. On top of that it's not very efficient and frequently stalls and sputters."

    July 27, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  11. Montana is Obama Country

    hhmm.. seems John (I don't wear a flag pin) McSurge forgot to wear his peppermint shoes..!!

    maybe next time,, maybe next time..

    As there will be another open mouth insert foot moment..

    Yes..>WE<...Can... Obama 08,12

    July 27, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  12. projectial barfing

    I'm for Al Franken with Pee Wee Herman as his VEEP running mate. They're all the same anyway.

    July 27, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  13. Ted

    Every politician changes their position. I'll take an American patriot who will defend and protect this country over an arrogant victim who believes he 'deserves' to be president.

    July 27, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  14. Bru, Asheville, NC

    Jason, you are right on. All politicians will flip-flop and pander, both before and after the election. It's about the only thing you can count on them to do. So it will always be voting for the lesser of x-number of evils.

    July 27, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  15. edex, FLORIDA VOTER

    If Mccain wins this election, i will definately believe americans are really dumb. After seeing what bush did to this country and still having 41% of Americans supporting him, is very suprising. If you are voting for mcinsane, you are stupid and dump

    July 27, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  16. PCS / North Carolina

    Brian wrote July 27th, 2008 6:54 pm ET

    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.

    Brian, you may be right.

    Kelly July 27th, 2008 6:58 pm ET
    "Obama is just as big of a joke."

    How about your puppet McCain, who left an ailing wife for a pill popping beer baron.

    July 27, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  17. MikeH

    Oh, now behave. McCain's just trying to find an issue that will get him some votes. His Campaign didn't know his latest state of mind so they were caught off-guard.

    Happening a lot recently, the Republican-contolled broadcast media has its hands full squelching all these spurious McCain outbursts.

    July 27, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  18. Hj

    The Republicans need to lose every seat and re-group and get new leaders. There party would only dream of an Obama.

    July 27, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  19. Rick

    affimative action and political correctness is what is destroying our industries, especially when we are required to hire by race, color and heritage rather than hire by experience. One little thing and everyone thinks they can sue, I say get traing, get a job and quit trying to use your race, color and heritage to get ahead.............

    July 27, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  20. J.P.

    Its going to be fun rubbing it in these Obama follower's faces when McCain wins. Just like it was when Bush defeated Gore......AND Kerry.

    July 27, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  21. Peter

    McShame flip-flops on everything

    July 27, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  22. Russ

    No surprise here. This is like number 70 on the list of flip-flops for McCain.

    carpetbagger.com has the whole list.

    July 27, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  23. BWM

    What hasn't McCain flipped on?Everything except, BOMB,BOMB,BOMB. He is as explosive as his temper. In addition, he lies or maybe he is dillusional.

    July 27, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  24. easy rider

    Mr McCain't seems to only agree with what's needed to win him the election. Can he not come up with SOME kind of UNIQUE idea?

    July 27, 2008 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  25. Godson

    Please take it easy on Grandpa McCain, he might be confusing it with some other stuff, let him take his viagra prescription tonight and he might come back on Monday flipping the other way.
    He's just confused, it's understandable, AGE BREEDS CONFUSION

    July 27, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 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