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. Fazio

    It looks like McCain is either still developing as a politician, or... that he will do anything, take any position, make alliances with anyone just to win votes. I guess he figures that by taking both positions on an issue, he is bound to gain the favor of at least some people. Sad. Just think if McCain were to become President, policies would change daily.

    July 28, 2008 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  2. NY State of mind


    Get educated, he went on the tour because McCain camp threw up the challenge and he took it. Came out like a rose and you can't stand it. As far as campain money McCain is the one running Ad's on German TV, with campain money! Are you just stupid and can't read or do you just hate Black people. Just say it, it will feel liberating and you will finally know who you really are.

    Obama 08 🙂

    July 28, 2008 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  3. Obama 08'

    this wasn't a flip-flop he was caught once again not knowing the issues

    July 28, 2008 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  4. BWM

    I don't think John McCain understands, understands, understands, understands, REPEAT, understands that he is obviously stuck back in the 60's.

    July 28, 2008 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  5. Travis

    This is the same IDIOT that was pandering last week to the Latino

    and Black vote.....now that he's in his home state which the majority

    want "affirmative action" gone....he's voting a flip-flop.

    You're getting caught in your LIES McWar.

    July 28, 2008 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  6. BWM

    McCain understands. Let's all repeat,UNDESTANDS! He learned a new word! How brilliant! I don't understand how this man won the nomination. He is a joke! He doesn't understand that the whole world is listening.

    July 28, 2008 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  7. carolflowery

    If I were President I would take off all items on any application concerning race. The way to begin removing racism is to end the endless flaunting of race from entering pre-K thru jobs in the work place. When schools would give test, it would just be the scores
    and not all this whites vs. blacks scores, cant parents keep up
    with their child's scores, why pay all these stastictic jee haws
    to analyze scores depending on race, what good does it really do.
    The only think on any application should be Legal Citizen of America, or Visisting Citizen from (whatever country) or Legal Immigrant.

    July 28, 2008 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  8. Jim Hall

    McShame is getting more senile every minute. We don't need another set of Regan, Bush, and Bush senile people in the white house Jim.

    July 28, 2008 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  9. McCain Lies!

    Let's get this straight since some of you dumb yourself down and actually believe the trash mccain is talking. Obama was willing to visit the troops at the hospital with the general in charge there and leave the press behind (he has done that several times but some of you morons don't bother to read) however the pentagon said that since the general endorsed Obama it would be viewed as a campaign visit and advised him not to go.

    July 28, 2008 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  10. Charlie

    Because W Bush is always wrong I welcome every flip-flop possible. McCain is more complicated.... he is reight 10%-20% of the time so when he changes his mind it might be to go from right to wrong. Or in McCain's case from right to far far right. He WAS right about the tax cuts,offshore drilling and immigration.... now he is with the far right. That might help secure his base (the 28% who think W is great) but this race is about attracting independents. I certainly hope that if McCain wins he will flip back again to the guy he was in 2000. He won't get my vote but he could get my respect.

    July 28, 2008 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  11. DEBBY, NJ

    McShame is flip flopping again ... This man is just not Presidential material at all...

    July 28, 2008 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  12. Moe, NY

    In my opinion McCain flipped a long time ago, and he certainly is a flop.

    July 28, 2008 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  13. JC

    Yes Jason, all politicians flip flop some more than others and some are not hypocrites about it like McCain, he has been doing nothing but attacking Sen. Obama instead of coming up with his own ideas about solving the problems at home immigration is one of those problems, lets see if the media (CNN) DIGS deeper, or better yet this is a perfect issue for Lou Dobbs!!!!!!!!

    July 28, 2008 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  14. Dave, Houston, TX

    Let's be clear. If you take a position, but then you learn more facts or thing progress differently than what you expected, changing your position is not a "flip-flop," it is actually the way adults should behave.

    However, when you change you position for political gain, or because you've been bought by one side of the issue, that is a flip-flop. John McCain has a career full of them!

    July 28, 2008 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  15. deliseo-hartford, ct

    If America is crazy enough to vote this over the hill senator than we they will get what we deserve. I notice of lately that his views have been changing every other
    week or so. Experience is over rated everyone. Experience got us into these economical woes and war
    with a tiny country. Affirmative action is just a saying and most of us fair americans hire people base on their
    experience and personality that will click for that job.

    July 28, 2008 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  16. conspiracy theorist

    60+ people killed in bombings and shootings across iraq in the last two days,but,as long as the "surge succeeded",as claimed by mccain,it's ok. we still have more troops there ,now ,than we did before the "surge".it is a partial success ,at most,and not necessarily due to the increase in troops,called the "surge".mccain will keep us there,forever,if elected.mark my words!

    July 28, 2008 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  17. JoeMamma

    It's time for reverse discrimination to end. Quotas need to end. Barack is proof that we can all achieve greatness without discriminating against one for the color of their skin.

    July 28, 2008 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  18. Annette, Washington, DC

    Whether he did or didn't clearly shows that this man is out of touch with the American voters.

    July 28, 2008 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  19. Jamaal kansas

    well you just lost alot of mexican voters and the rest of the young voters that depend on affirmitive action to get into schools or funding for programs Mcshame Obama doesn't even have to attack you you flip flop so much half the time you forget what you are saying you are really lossing your bearings.

    July 28, 2008 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  20. Terri


    Your posting has no substance whatever to back it up. The reason Sen. Obama went on the tour of the Middle East and Europe was because McCain made a point of saying he had not been there in over two years. McCain also invited Sen. Obama to go and he would go with him. As you can see, it backfired on Sen. McCain. Sen. Obama said that he did not want to politicize the wounded soldiers, therefore he did not go to the hospital in Germany.

    Sen. Obama did go and help sand bag in Missouri, while John McCain walked around looking and your President Bush flew over.

    I know you want your candidate to be president, but be truthful in your comments. John McCain is constantly saying different things to different audiences. I do not think that he knows what he says anymore.

    As you can see, my posting does not have any misspelled words.

    July 28, 2008 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  21. Old blue

    Yes, this is just one more confusing issue on where a candidate really stands. This is American politics, especially for the two-headed monopoly. Third party candidates usually are more honest but nobody votes for them so they have no influence.

    July 28, 2008 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  22. mccainism

    mccain wants obama to use our wounded vets as props for campaigning.he also doesn't think they deserve the gi bill he did not vote for,but,is trying to claim he was a part of it.he accuses obama of missing comittee meetings,and yet,he himself has seldom even gone to the capital,even to vote.mccain has one of the worst voting record 'attendance' of any senator.

    July 28, 2008 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  23. proud army and navy mom

    That was not a flip flop......a Flip flop is Obama on his troop with drawl plan in Iraq. First it was with in the first year now he will listen to comanders on the ground. I feel for Hillery supporters who were beat on lies. My favorite is his stand on NAFTA, first he was totally against it now he says its ok

    I am proud army and navy mom and approve this message

    July 28, 2008 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  24. PUMA-Darragh

    He's not flipping, he's just forgetting!!

    Okay, everyone please watch closely as I do my PUMA trick on you democrats

    :::waving my pocket watch in front of you::::

    you will vote republican

    you will do it because you are a real democrat

    you will vote repulican

    :::stops waving watch:::

    How do you feel now?

    July 28, 2008 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  25. Robert

    McCain may be right that he has more political experience than Obama, after all he has flipped flopped his political position way more then he can even claim that Obama has. (His age is showing.)
    DUH...he evidently only lacks sound judgement? Even worse, without his Republican Bush advisors, he can't even answer straight forward questions. DUH...he has judgement???

    July 28, 2008 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
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