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. The Lady

    How can affirmative action only be good for Arizona?????????

    July 27, 2008 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  2. Shane

    As i Canadian, I can vote for neither, but I think finally the US has 2 worthwhile candidates. I think, as far as our media coverage goes, he seems like a fair man. I would vote for Obama if I could, but I thin Sen. McCain is correct about affirmative actiion. Get rid of it. Best person wins.

    July 27, 2008 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  3. deanne

    I get so tired of this flip stuff on both side, can't someone just change their mind. Goodness!!! Go PUMAS Go PUMAS Go PUMAS


    July 27, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  4. NBC

    Old Man McCain....is not really sain.....people around the world dont trust you....they know youre more of the same.

    July 27, 2008 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  5. Suz

    Another bash by the media loving press in the tank for Obama!! The Great Messiah can "change his opinion" at the polls notice, but if, God Forbid, McCain rewords anything you jump on it with headlines news. The media is this country is a sad state of affairs. Wake up real Americans and see what is happening to our country!!

    July 27, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  6. Andy

    Who supports affirmative action? It uses discrimination to combat discrimination. Dumb! At least McCain does have a little experience. Obama is just trying to woo voters with his charm. I hope that he doesn't brainwash enough Americans to get himself elected.

    July 27, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  7. used2bdemocrat

    McCain is right. Affirmative action has been around since the late 50's when Richard Nixon created it to diminish the union's political power by driving a wedge between rank and file white and black members, his plan was to get the black vote in his campaign for the presidency against Kennedy. After almost 50 years of existence affirmatives action has more than done its job, and in now in many instances it enables reverse discrimination. One cannot turn on the TV without seeing blacks. For the overall % of their race they are overly represented in every facet of life. To go a step further, they also have a MS. Black America contest for blacks only. They have many other black only type public venues. Let the whites try to have a white only anything and see how fast blacks will yell discrimination, racism, etc. I agree with McCain, quotas are no longer required to insure blacks have equal footing in the workplace, its time to end affirmative action.


    July 27, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  8. suzyku

    This old man has flip flopped so many times it unbelievable! What a forgetful old hypocrite he is, NOT FIT TO BE PRESIDENT!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 27, 2008 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  9. Robert

    Does McCakn know what he stands for. It seems to change with the way the wind blows. The only thing that he's consistent about is that he wants to become the oldest president ever elected to the office. I wonder if he's not already around the bend. Anyway, I'm glad to hear him say that he's visited all 57 states and that Israel's best friends are the Israelis. Duh!

    July 27, 2008 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Can there ever be a positive story about McCain on CNN? I mean ever? Obama is so glorified on CNN

    July 27, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  11. ALD

    It amazes me that the Obama supporters always resort to call Mr. McCain names instead of saying anything useful or valid. You can't all be that stupid, or can you? If you have a valid political point, state it. To just call your opponet names demonstrates you lack of intelligence and understanding of the true issues. Wise up people.

    July 27, 2008 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  12. Sheri

    McCain -flip flops because his old brain has already flopped. YEARS AGO with all due respect.

    July 27, 2008 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  13. Sandra B

    Lets give old man McSame the war monger a break. We all no that he is senile and can't remember thing as well as he did in 2002. And furthermore, he's having to challenge himself daily just to stay in this game. It's totally obvious that he is no longer the maverick that he and the news media once thought he was.

    Obama 08

    July 27, 2008 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  14. P. D.

    McCain will say ,and do anything to get more votes. My head is spinning from his faux pas. I am going to stick my head in the sand until Nov. I can't take it anymore!

    July 27, 2008 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  15. S.M.K. Pasadena, TX

    Go Obama Go... We can't wait to see you at the white house.

    July 27, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  16. M. Townsend

    Not surprising. Other recent mishaps:
    – Insisted he Anbar awakening was a surge rather than admit gettting things mixed up: "A surge is really a counter-insurgency strategy, and it’s made up of a number of components,” McCain said.. So effectively the surge has been going on for ... four years.

    – Came from maybe a 100 years, to by 2013, to 16 months is a pretty good timetable – the exact strategic determination made correctly by his opponent over a year ago.

    – Came from more troops not needed in Afganistan to maybe 3 brigades – not sure if they are NATO troops. His opponent has been calling for more troops in Iran for about a year.

    – Redid the earth's geography creating an Iraq-Pakistani border.

    – Totally forgot the Afghan war in declaring Iraq the first najor conflict post 911.

    Anyone still want this president for four years after the last eight?

    July 27, 2008 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  17. JCH in Philly

    Oh Please... Of course Obama would take offense to this... I'm sure affirmative action helped this under-achieving Occidental College student get into Columbia and Harvard Law. So of course he would take offense. But the majority of white Americans (or Asian Americans for that matter) who have not received an offer to a college, grad school or a job – where clearly other "groups" are receiving offers with lesser credentials – knows that John McCain (and the Supreme Court) are on the right side of this issue.

    Obama ought to leave this issue alone, because it only plays well in the black community (of which he already has their undying devotion)

    July 27, 2008 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  18. paul, nyc ny

    I AM SICK AND TIRED of the name calling FLIP FLOPPERS. I have been a democrat for most of my life and would like to remain one. Sen Obama has just returned from what his campaign has called a NON-campaign junket to the middle east and europe but what else could it be?! Senator Obama no matter what has changed his position on so many things lately that it is freightening to think we might have a Democrat Bush in the White House (meaning that his inexperience and the POLITICAL MACHINE that produced him like the one that poduced Bush). And when he goes to explain WHY he has changed his mind which I accept but only with a true explanation not WELL my rival flip flops and leaves it at that.

    I am a voter. I do not want to go search out your answer on your website that SOMEONE else wrote. i want to hear it from your lips and from your mind and from your heart. Until then and only then will I opt to cast my vote for you. At the moment my vote is with Sen McCain, not that he is a better candidate, you are both alike, but because with his experience comes answers to my questions on why he 'flip-flopped'.

    July 27, 2008 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  19. kris b in eau claire, wi

    Just another "senior" moment from McCain. Doesn't know the difference between the Sunnis and Shiites, thinks the war on terror is being fought on the Iran/Afghan border, believes he's living in the 1980's referencing current events in "Czechoslovakia", LOL! Obama's no saint but at least he can speak in complete sentences and knows his subject material.

    July 27, 2008 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  20. paul, nyc ny

    Sen Obama has become a model. Not a MODEL presidential campaign candidate but a MODEL that is molded into what people want to hear one day to the other. From one topic to the other. A devil's advocate in his own argument.

    July 27, 2008 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  21. William

    The funny thing is that McCain's own campaign won't get behind him on this one. This is going down as one of the worst run presidential campaigns ever.

    July 27, 2008 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  22. jo

    more like forgot.

    July 27, 2008 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  23. unity

    Amazing – the amount of anger McCain projects. That's all I see coming from him.

    July 27, 2008 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  24. J.C.

    The sooner we can do away with affirmative action, the more competitive our nation will become. There was a time that we needed it badly. Now we have to look at ourselves globally. The fact is that we have a hard time staying competitive.

    July 27, 2008 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  25. What if?

    Let me start of by saying THANKS McSane, if you would not have been so aggressive by bulling Obama to visit these countries before November, we would have missed out on having serious PROOF that Obama is going to be a GREAT President.

    We all want credit for a job well done, for those who states that Obama is arrogant, full of himself and ect....I guess we all are the above, There nothing wrong with Obama stating "I admit we did really well", I’m sure that’s not what McSane and camp were hoping for, BUT IT IS WHAT IT IS. We all want to have the opportunity to feel GOOD about a WELL done outcome.

    July 27, 2008 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
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