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. Florida Livin

    Of course he flip flopped on Affirmative Actions. He is the biggest Pander and Elitist. His wife is worth a 100 plus million dollars and calls Obama an Elitist when they had only been worth 1.5 million do to book sales. Talk about disconnect. I guess if you are smart you are a Elitist. Sorry don't want anymore stupid President. They don't care for American Jobs. Also to vote against Affirmative Action is wrong. You don't have to be black to realize that. People know that some companies will not even hire African Americans or Latinos for jobs. Just being honest about that. Also McCain has been all about SURGE SURE Bash Obama Bash Obama all week. Is that how a man running for President should conduct himself. McCain we are occupying Iraq. The real war is Afghanistan with the tali ban and terrorist that killed 3,000 plus Americans. You have no real issue since you changed everything from 2000 you stood for. You wonder why the Base doesn't like you. Because you weren't with them and never where. Now you Pander to them for there votes when the Swift Boated the heck out of you. Obama has principal and substance when he speaks and you have none.

    July 27, 2008 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  2. Lise

    Obama flip-flops just as much, if not more. Notice his positions on the Iraqi war and many other major issues have changed from when he first announced his presidential bid to now. All politicians flip-flop, else they couldn't win elections.
    And why can't McCain oppose affirmative action? Isn't that a Republican party platform? Hasn't America been moving away from affirmative action (Gratz v. Bollinger, etc), which is really just reverse discrimination?
    It seems like both sides are very blind to their own candidate's faults, so stop attacking the other side before you take a good, hard look at your own candidate! It seems like this election cycle, "love" really does make people blind.

    July 27, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  3. Jim

    When was he ever in favor of affirmative action? How does this represent a position change? This article makes zero sense. Does CNN just reproduce O!'s latest press release now?

    July 27, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  4. McCain is a Saint

    If he flips which is on about everything except Iraq
    is OK because he is a WARRIOR!!!

    and a Saint

    July 27, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  5. mike

    CNN if you would poll somewhere other than the White House you will see Obama has a large lead over McCain.

    July 27, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  6. Lorenzo Clemons

    My! My! My! Okay Obama was taken to task for not going to Iraq, and now he is taken to task for going to Iraq. I just can not wait till this eledtion is over. I really hope Obama wins. It seem after watching Lou Dobb's show today, it was attack all the time on obama. Novermber needs to hurry up and get here. I will be happy and optimistic and ready to work hard for the new President (Obama), or I will be depressed and anti-social for the new President (McCain). I also might add with McCain , I will not be 'actioned affirmed' in my life as well. Here is hoping the joyous me is able to arrive in November.
    "If God is going to give you a ride, then you can at least buy the gas." Lorenzo Clemons

    July 27, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  7. libs be dopes

    Lets see.......

    How Slick Barry vote on FISA??

    Or was that just a refined position?

    July 27, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  8. Ame

    Obama the Havard educated is way smarter than McCain and Bush put together and you all know that. America needs a president that has good judgment from day one.

    When it comes to exprience vs good judgement, good judgment is always supreme.

    You wait till the first debate. Obama will smash McCain.

    Obama 08

    July 27, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  9. AAWoman for McCain

    Doesn't matter what you say about McCain. I'm voting for him.

    Just because Obama is a minority doesn't give him authority on affirmative action. He's already indicated that he is open to changing it from race to income–see the Bloston Globe article on it. The whole basis for affirmative action is historical discrimination. Gotta love how this man could care less about his AA constituents. He and his family will be well taken care of.

    Anything to get in office.

    African-American woman for McCain (I know you hate it, but it's TRUE)

    July 27, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  10. James

    McCain will flip over anything to get elected. He flipped on Iraq, does not remember which Moslem tribe hosts Al Qaida, thought Iran has a border with Pakistan, disagrees with the Bush Admin while claiming all successes. He is beginning to look like a me too engineer. Anyone who does not understand economics thoery will be lost in the complexity of global economics.

    July 27, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  11. Harold

    It's time for some younger blood, and it's time for change! McCain just told the taxpayers this AM he's going to raise our taxes; even payroll taxes will be considered.

    July 27, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  12. neverobama

    I really am starting to dislike Obama. Who the hell does he think he is already acting like the President? I think he is running on pure arrogance and I can not believe people do not see him for what he really is, and opportunist!

    Wake up America before it is too late. Vote McCain someone with real experience and knowledge of national security.

    McCain 08

    July 27, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  13. Danny G. Boca Raton, FL

    why not provide the details of the Arizona ballot? it is hard to see this as a flip when the details are not being put forth. it is political for the obama camp to critique him and not provide the details of the issue he is being critique on. I'm not a fan of McCain, I'm a dem, but I don't like to win with the same tactics the republicans have used in the past, if he is caught with a conflict in his believes they go after him for it, this seems to be tid for tad. Sen. Obama I expect better, please continue speaking to us for what we hope for, not for what mcCain may or may not agree with, the American people with judge him for whom he is.

    July 27, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  14. Ridgeway

    Another useless cause in the lime light. Much ado about nothing. Tempest in a tea pot.
    Enough useless, cry baby bed wetting, over meaningless issues. Right up there with earned income credit.

    July 27, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  15. BWM

    Anything in America is possible! A sitting president who has the economy in a mess and he was voted in twice. Now a senile old man who admittedly said he knew nothing about the economy, dodges question and answer conferences,supports the same failed policies as the current administration and is clueless about geography. Yet this man is qualified to be president?

    July 27, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  16. Larry

    There goes the invitation to the next NAACP convention.

    July 27, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  17. McArsenic

    why would affirmative action be any exception? McCain has flipped on everything from off shore drilling to Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy. he has flopped on everything from Immigration to running a clean campaign...this is not news, he flip flops almost as much as he makes gaffes, CNN if you want to do a real story, refer to the USS Forrestal ( Google mccain wet-start USS forestall 7/29/67) and find out why McCain was the ONLY crew member to get immediate transfer, stop placating to McCain, ask him why he has so many lobbyist working on his campaign, ask McCain why if he is such a "hero" wont he release his military records...i mean he is a hero...right?
    John McCain's positions change like the wind and no matter what direction he blowing it still stinks!!! heck i know CNN wont post this anyway...to busy letting Texas Trail Dog rant.

    July 27, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |

    There is a huge double standard for John McCain. Why are the "Liberal Media" not questioning John McCain. Why do we not know about Richard Quinn. http://www.whoisrichardquinn.com

    Why do we not know?

    July 27, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  19. TK, Dallas, TX

    What is even more scarier about mccain and his say anything do anything quest for power is that the media is step for step with him on this power hungry quest. The media does not offer any critical analyisis of mccain just take him at his word which we know is grounded in i'll say anything do anything flip floppoing to win the presidency.

    July 27, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  20. jim anderson

    Mccain once a flip flopper always a flip flopper


    July 27, 2008 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  21. Dave from Florida

    68 key flips for McCheese since 2001. Bush tax cuts FLIP -Drilling for Oil – FLIP, McCain- Feingold...His own legislation -FLIP,

    McCain was a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act, which would grant legal status to illegal immigrants’ kids who graduate from high school. Now he’s against it -FLIP

    McCain supported his own lobbying-reform legislation from 1997. Now he doesn’t.. FLIP

    McCain pledged in February 2008 that he would not, under any circumstances, raise taxes. Specifically, McCain was asked if he is a “‘read my lips’ candidate, no new taxes, no matter what?” referring to George H.W. Bush’s 1988 pledge. “No new taxes,” McCain responded. Two weeks later, McCain said, “I’m not making a ‘read my lips’ statement, in that I will not raise taxes.FLIP

    In the Senate, McCain opposed a variety of measures on equal pay for women, and endorsed the Supreme Court’s Ledbetter decision. In July, however, McCain said, “I’m committed to making sure that there’s equal pay for equal work. That … is my record and you can count on it.”

    Today he say's he wants to kick Russia out of the G-8...Lord help us if this man gets in the white house. The neo-cons want to start WWIII.

    The Straight talk express....McBush will do anything and say anything to get elected.

    July 27, 2008 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  22. Reality


    July 27, 2008 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  23. LINDA



    July 27, 2008 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  24. Linda in Indiana

    Who really cares if he flipped or flopped? Both candidates have much to be desired by many of us in this USA. It sounds like two children fighting instead of two adult men running for the highest office in our land. When are they going to debate and deal with real issues that concern us, the voters?

    July 27, 2008 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  25. 17 year old future politician

    His republican base doesn't support affirmative action...so now he is opposing it...check McCains history, he used to be very centered and had an open mind about everything, (not including voting against martin luther king day ect.) and wouldn't support everything his party did...but now he has followed all of his party's requests, bad or not. Once again, another example of politics as usual with McCain.

    July 27, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
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