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. Jaime

    He can't remember his position, much less he doesn't even know how to run a computer. How do you expect him to run a country?!

    July 27, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  2. Lynne

    You Obama people need to see reality instead of living in your Pollyanna world. Obama lives in it with you. The only reason he even went on the world tour was to make himself look good not our country and to have an opportunity to use your donation dollers to further himself. He didn't even take time from his basbetball playing to see our injured soldiers.....the poor thing couldn't take his media crew with him into see the soldiers and since he wasn't getting publicity for looking like he cared...he decided to forego the visit. He is the most uncaring presidential candidate we have ever had and you guys need to wake up to that fact before it is too late. You think Bush has done a bad job? You haven't seen nothing yet if this man takes office. I am praying everyday that he doesn't.

    July 27, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  3. Ula Nejad- Sacramento Ca

    Obama's parents would have done him a great favor not only for him but his father, his grandfather, his mother and America. Why? Because he would simply be a great President for Kenya. America would not have to be responsible for the Global Poverty Act he is pushing for in the UN. Oprah has led the intiative. He should sell his five bathroom house and donate to charity like the American family that did recently. How's that for challenge? As for minorities......Pacific Islanders have a long history with the United States of America too and they know where to draw the line though it is known that they are the minority or minorities. Experience does matter which he lacks. McCain understands all about quotas...lol.

    July 27, 2008 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  4. ADAM


    GO OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 27, 2008 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  5. Frank, Missouri

    Is the media waking up ? Do we now call McCain's flops, flips and gaffes ? I thought Olberman was the only one who has the guts to do that.

    July 27, 2008 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  6. Nikole

    @ Lone Libertarian, please refer back to speeches Obama made during the primaries. He often said that "we must be as careful leaving Iraq as we were careless getting in". He has always said that troops must begin to leave immediately, but it was going to be only so many brigades at a time and redeployment would be dependent on conditions on the ground and info that he is not privy to right now.

    July 27, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  7. nancy

    Seems more like a 'flop' than a 'flip' to me.
    John McCain is unstable in reporting his stance on many policies. I question his ability to run this country.

    July 27, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  8. Sally

    Yes he did flip ... as he has on lots of other issues (taxes, immigration, of-shore drilling). So?

    July 27, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  9. Ronnie

    He is the same person that voted against King's holiday, still the same Johnny come lately!

    July 27, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  10. dex

    McCain is dumb, come on guys who in their right mind (no pun intended) would put the trust of or great country in his feeble hands. His judgment is beyond suspect, it’s scary. We have already had one elitist dunce in the white house our children can't afford another. He has no vision for American. At this point, I am willing to charge that those who blindly stand opposed to Mr. OBAMA are plain stupid or out right racist, in either case you represent the underbelly of our beloved America. Please go away!!!!

    July 27, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  11. Jim

    The various Scottish insults suggest a certain cultural insensitivity.

    I would hope that a person's success or failure would be based on their ability and character rather than their tribe.

    July 27, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  12. Obama 08/12

    McSane vetoes every vote for woman and Veterans yet he votes for men being able to get Viagara .
    What on earth is on this guys mind?
    One of McSanes favorite words is Surge he likes it so well he uses it all the time guess Cindy must be used it used to that and a change its just Depends .

    July 27, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  13. Mike surrey BC

    John flip flops because he has trouble remembering from day to day the issues about Viagra. Any time he wants to get it up it's Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran or kill them through other means.

    Kelly says it right. Americans are so messed up in political views that voting for "Your name here" is probably the best...

    Go figure...

    July 28, 2008 05:32 am at 5:32 am |
  14. BWM

    Its nice to know that people overseas judge you not for the color of your skin,but the content of your knowledge and what you bring to the table to help them and all people globally. I'm sure you won't print my comments because people will see how racist many Americans really are. I always knew there were racist on both sides of the fence, but it appears to be even deeper if you are of color. It doesn't matter how knowledgeable you are.

    July 28, 2008 05:39 am at 5:39 am |
  15. Mike surrey BC

    I am amazed at the lack of conviction. It seems that if I CAN'T HAVE IT MY WAY" I will vote for anyone or just spoil my vote.

    Excuse me while I go to my room and sulk. See you in a hundred years.

    July 28, 2008 05:40 am at 5:40 am |
  16. Cricket

    Fred: "What does he stand for?". In a word-WAR-that's all he knows and all he is interested in. It was good to hear Hagel & Reid say they agreed with Obama on his decision re: visiting hospitalized troops. I only hope the entire population was watching "Face the Nation" yesterday.


    It's a challenge to see if your comment is going to post or not!! I never know.

    July 28, 2008 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  17. Badger

    It's not a flip flop if you can't remember your original position, right?

    July 28, 2008 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
  18. Timber (ex dem)

    You want a flip??! Obama tried to get Clinton to promise to remove ALL troops and end the war in 16 months. She siad "No, removing troops would be entirely dependent on the conditions in Iraq". He chided her for that and used it against her in the primaries and promised that he would remove ALL troops in 16 months .NOW, he is saying the same thing as Clinton. What a flip flopping phoney. Anyone who cannot see it needs their head examined.

    July 28, 2008 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  19. joe smith

    in a time of supposed oil shortages; how do we explain, that some states do NOT regulate the octane going in your tank, how can this be..; also how do we explain, if we are having gas supply problems, which includes 10% ethanol in the tank, imagine what Lundberg would say if the 10% was eliminated..

    July 28, 2008 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  20. I Forgot

    So what else is new? Slams Obama on Iraq and then states perhaps the timetable isn't far off the mark when the Iraqi PM starts to back it. Social Security and too much more ditto. It's not the onset of senility, as one poster puts it, but a lack of thorough deductive reasoning that can occur at any age.

    Age isn't the issue here, but judgement and knowledge are. We're not seeing much of either from McCain at this point and that's scary.

    July 28, 2008 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  21. Anna

    I am tired about hearing of change of positions.

    mccain: quotas

    obama: fisa


    The Country's needs change, people.
    The Government and People have to be Prepared to Adapt to those changing needs.

    I wish this WEREN'T true because we could FIRE everyone in Congress and keep all laws the way they were.

    July 28, 2008 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  22. affirmative action is discrimination

    As a Black man i always have been disgusted by affirmative action, a law that goes against everything Dr Martin Luther King spoke about having "Content of character over color of skin" I would rather a person who was QUALIFIED for said job get the position, than for some company to hire merely to fill quotas, that in itself is an insult to anyone with a brain.

    Discrimination of ANY kind should be banned in the United States, period.

    July 28, 2008 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  23. Bobby from MS

    who cares? Whatever happened to the best qualified person getting the job, scholarship,etc... Everyone wants equal rights but there can never be equal rights as long as there are programs that benifit the unqualified over the qualified.

    July 28, 2008 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  24. Dominique

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    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.
    CNN why is my comment from last night still in moderation? Was there a problem with my statement?

    July 28, 2008 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  25. Texans for Obama

    John McCain needs to go sit down somewhere and retire. This man is too old and all of his policies and ideas are old school. McCain is part of the "good old boy system". We need a change in America. This is about the future, not the past. I am tired of hearing about the war and the surge. We didn't win the Vietnam war. The troops were pulled out and over 50,000 young soldiers lost their lives.

    McWar needs to go! My grandchildren's future is not in Iraq. McCain is dumb, and was a "D" student in college. We need an intelligent leader. We had a dumb person as President for the last 8 yrs and look at the state of our economy! YES WE CAN AND WILL!

    July 28, 2008 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
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