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. susie

    Rev. Al Sharpton should have criticize Jessie Jackson. But, he won't criticize anyone of his own race.

    July 27, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  2. Sergio

    Obama doesn't have to accuse McCain. John is harming himself when is attacking Obama, and most like Bush is helping Obama to win against McCain.

    July 27, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  3. Once an Obama Supporter

    Obama as always does not understand what is meant by flip flopped. Looks like he has followed a different dictionary!

    July 27, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  4. David from Germany

    Obama, the world is looking forward to see you as President

    July 27, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  5. K

    Obama makes arrogant Bush look humble. Obama's arrogance and hypocrisy is disgusting. Why have a vote in America? Obama and the media think he is already President.

    July 27, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  6. Kimberly from Houston, TX

    McCain is hoping that it will help him win votes!
    No more AA...remember, he even opposed the MLK holiday.

    July 27, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  7. conspiracy theorist

    so,mccain flip-flopping is news?i thought that was the basis of his entire campaign?and whats wrong with it,anyway?to never know what kind of a stand our president is going to take on an issue is a good thing isnt it?thats the way it has worked for decades,now.why would we want to elect a man who takes a firm stand on the issues?am i sounding sarcastic?maybe.decide for yourself.

    July 27, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  8. bk

    Doesn't look like a flip flop to me. Obama better look in the mirror if he wants to see a flip flopper. FISA, GUN CONTROL, NAFTA AND ON AND ON. Obama goes the way the wind blows.

    July 27, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  9. Paul

    Nice try Nobama but flip flopping is your specialty

    July 27, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  10. William, from Cali!

    The only constant in the Universe, is "Change". So , why is the changing of one's earlier position; on any give issue, taken as something of a 'reversal". Situations and issues, do varingly; constitute "changes of opinions"- sometimes. So, having the option to change "one's personal bias" on any given issue, should be universally free; wouldn't you say.................................................

    July 27, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  11. S. Boatman

    Mccain Always Flip Flops! I Bet He Will Change Positions Again When He Realizes He Needs More Of The Black Vote! Mccain Is A Total Flip Flopper Of The Floppiest Kind!

    July 27, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  12. Brian

    McSame... things have changed a lot since 1988- I mean Czechoslovakia is not even a country anymore... well, according to everyone but Johnny.

    July 27, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  13. S. Boatman

    Another Macflop!

    July 27, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  14. The Lady

    Obama did a great job.

    July 27, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  15. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    This should be no surprise. John McCain is the same man that opposed for many years a MLK Holiday in the State of Arizona but his political asperations made him reverse his decision. John McCain hasn't stood up against Hispanics in Arizona as they have been jailed, bused and sent back to Mexico. McCain is scary because he doesn't stand for anything but the Iraq war and a war with Iran or any other country or people that opposes him. Look at his record and you will see Bush all over again.

    July 27, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  16. Chris

    Great. McBush is flip-flopping, and still has the gall to call Obama a flip-flopper. This is a great Republican maverick. Actually, if this is a Republican maverick, I really want to see what they would refer to as an orthodox Republican.

    Obama '08

    July 27, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  17. Ron democrat turned independent

    why is it that if mccain changes his stand on an issue from ten years ago, which had totaly different circumstances that what we have today it's a flip flop, but obama who as constantly changed is mind on almost every issue in the past year it's not a flip flop. is the obama campaign so desparate to score negative points it as to scrape on non issues. maybe thats why after all the reasons mccain should not even be in this race, like bush, his age, his lack of all the money obama has to buy the ads he's been buying they are virtually tied in the national polls. obama's biggest problem is his total lack of respect for people's inteligence. he is so egotistical he believes he can do what he wants and the voters will buy into it. well look at the polls mr. obama it seems at least half the voters are more inteligent that you give them credit for

    July 27, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  18. JOHN


    July 27, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  19. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Further, why should McCain support Affirmative Action when he has never supported veterans. McCain didn't stand up for our soldiers in Iraq when the Generals asked for better equipment and Rumsfeld said "you go to war with what you have. McCain did support the G.I. Bill or the stimulous package for veterans. Why had he not visited the wounded and brave soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital to know what conditions were there. I would only trust McCain for one thing WAR.

    July 27, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  20. Rob

    Once again Obama gives the honest answer, even when it is not the most popular. And once again Flipper McFlop changes his stance to pander for a few votes. Sad stuff indeed.

    July 27, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  21. Ed

    Finally!!!! Barack is swinging back. It's time he realized that McCain is only going to get dirtier and dirtier and he has to start fighting back.

    July 27, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  22. Concerned

    I do not know what McCain's previous stance on this matter has been. But whatever he is saying now has the racist Charlie Black's name written all over it. You can take that to the bank.

    July 27, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |

    Socialism for the rich, Free Market for the poor......

    July 27, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  24. Josh

    What does torture, Bush's tax cuts, Iraqi withdraw timetable, affirmative action all have in common? That's right, all McCain FlipFlops. I am not even sure if he is that aware of what he is doing.

    July 27, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  25. Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    America's brain washing continues sponsored by Fox News, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and America's Right Wing Public Radio.

    The majority of American people do not know how to investigate and learn for there own insight. Everything that the media outlets listed above presents to America it must be gospel. If Obama was Japanese 55% of the American people would believe it.

    Further, if ask them how do the know that? They say I read on the internet or I heard it on Fox News. Those people are so closed minded they refuse to listen to another view point. Fox News wants to demonize Obama as someone evil and out of touch with America and someone who is un-patriotic. So of course alt of Americans just follow along with the crowd and say, OK, Dah, Ok.

    Thank God some Americans will at least give this man a fair chance to make his case for the presidency of the United States of America.

    Obama 08/12

    July 27, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
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