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. Anonymous

    After all the 16 months withdrawal is working for him, McCain that is. He flipped, he flapped. He had been Obamatized or getting through it.
    Surge is working! why are we there in the first place??? Did McCain remembers Sunnis in Iraq "The Awakening"? Why not divide and conquer? Your tax dollars at work motto to fight between themselves....

    July 28, 2008 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  2. Karen B in Houston

    For the Hillary supporters, if you cast a vote for McCain, I truly hope you know what you'll be getting if he wins.

    No more choice, your sons will continue to war in Iraq, and just in you don't know this...black folks aren't the only demographic that somewhat benefit from Affirmative Action.

    July 28, 2008 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  3. SIMP

    mccain is racist. what do you expect from a man who voted against the MLK holiday. All you people that supports this racist are no better than he is. We need change in this country and this old buzzard is not it. You all need to wake up and see where this senile old liar will do if elected.


    July 28, 2008 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  4. Anonymous

    stop with the McCain bashing already, it is quite obvious that CNN, and all of the other left wing brainwashing this country liberal news stations want Obama to win. I mean don't you get sick of yourselves and your bias??

    Savage Nation rules, not even a left wing plot to try and bring him down with the Autism comments worked, but you will keep trying until Obama gets in there!

    July 28, 2008 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  5. darrell brown

    McCain is against viagara. I bet Cindy McCain let out a sigh of relief!!

    July 28, 2008 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  6. altapres

    People are making fun of McCain but he gets the last laugh to those mocking him when he becomes the president.

    July 28, 2008 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  7. Bob Indianapolis, IN

    Pander Bear McSame
    It's really a shame
    To watch the "straight talk"
    Turn into something
    A dog leaves on a walk...

    July 28, 2008 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  8. Michelle D. - Atlanta, GA

    John McCain honestly doesn't have a clue. He just parrots what his people tell him to say. This comment absolutely baffles me. Why does he think it's good in Arizona and not good for the rest of the country?

    Affirmative action is dicey at best. I live for the day when Age, Gender and Sex are no longer allowed to be on Employment Applications or College Applications. Then, and only then, will you actually get the best applicants for the position.

    July 28, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  9. Kathy

    Nothing new here. Just like 100 years in Iraq, then it was out by 2012, and NOW he thinks 18 months could be a good thing. McAlzheimer's needs to up the dose!!!

    July 28, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  10. check and checkmate

    our nation is facing issues that can and do cut right to the core belief in the American concept and American dream. Is race that critical at this moment perhaps with Obama and the Liberals, however they are at the fringe of the Demo. Party. Mainstream voters and people I believe will say social issues are the issues that are addressed when there is either a real problem or when the bread and butter issues have been addressed and overcome. McCain, what you need is more than Iraq because it makes you a one dementinal candidate if you wanted to the boss you should have stayed in the Navy for your 4 stars, We the People need and demand a President that will bring more to the table than social engineering. The secret is moderation for the mainstream start to show that aspect and you can win the hearts and minds of mainstream voters......

    July 28, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  11. kevin for obama in Maryland

    This is typical of the old man..........he's an old flipflopper, now this is someone who will say anything to get elected......John McCain can't remember what he said yesterday, let alone months or years ago..........typical uneducated Republican........

    July 28, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  12. Craig

    This is now pandering to whites. He just lost the hispanic support in his state. Arizona has a large hispanic population and it might hurt him. Whites who are in support of Obama do not care about this issue, so McCain better be careful.

    July 28, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  13. Reggie

    I have read where a couple people have said get rid of affirmative action and let the best/most qualified person get the job. The only problem is that in American history, regardless of qualifications a black person is less likely to get a job if no mandates. I am against hiring a non-qualified black person, but that is the company's fault for hiring them in the first place. It is unrealistic to say there are no qualified black people for a job. It is definetely unfair for white people to lose a job to a unqualified minority. At the same time it is unfair for a minority to not get a job becuase of their look, name, color, gender, etc. How do you balance both?

    July 28, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  14. 100 yrs in Iraq

    =============why would anyone vote for mcBush?why???

    July 28, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |

    CNN......................... WHERE ARE THE STORIES ON JOHN EDWARDS??????

    If this were a Republican, it would be front page news 7 days in a row.

    Show us you have a tiny bit of fair and balanced – if you can stomach it.

    Thanks god for other news outlets who do not have a problem reporting good or bad .....

    July 28, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  16. WDRussell

    I really don't mind if a candidate changes their mind on different issues.
    The problem with McCain is that every time he changes his mind he gets crazier than he was before.
    The Maverick left the building a long time ago.

    July 28, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  17. matt

    I think both candidates have serious flip-flop problems. I don't think you can be a "good" pol without some contradictions. They probably see it as healthy...


    July 28, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  18. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Obama flip-flops:
    Iraq withdrawal
    The surge
    Union contributions being 'special interest' money
    Public financing
    Cuba embargo
    cracking down on employers of illegal immigrants
    the fence with Mexico
    decriminalization of marijuana
    mental distress as a valid abortion reason
    gun control
    Gov't eavesdropping
    Faith based initiatives
    and capital punishment.

    All these are documented by statements from Obama or his campaign.

    July 28, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  19. Justmyopinion2008

    Panderer, Flip-Flopper McCain what else do you expect! Surge Surge McCain, has never acknowledged that it was a mistake to invade Iraq based on lies about WMD which was never found. Reason being that removing Saddam Hussein was right and "will vote again for it". Any person with any grey cells in his head knows that if the reason was only to remove Saddam Hussein, ONLY 1 Billion dollars in the hands of oppositions groups in Iraq would have done the job hands down, without the loss of over 4000 Americans, over 500000 Iraqis, about 1 Trillion dollars in taxpayer's money, and more! What a joke and he wants to be the next Surge President of USA? Any person who can peel his or her bananas that votes for that man is not worthy to call him/her self an American (regardless of party affiliation)!

    July 28, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  20. Democrats will win 08'

    1. Do you agree with Pastor John Hagee that war with Iran is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy?2. Doesn't your legendary temper make you too dangerous to be trusted with the presidency of the United States?3. Doesn't your confusion regarding basic facts about the war in Iraq, including repeatedly citing a nonexistent Al Qaeda-Iran alliance, make you unfit for command?4. Given your past adultery, should Americans consider you a moral exemplar of family values?5. Doesn't your flip-flop on Jerry Falwell being an "agent of intolerance" show your opportunistic pandering to the religious right?6. Given your wealth and privileged upbringing, aren't you – and not Barack Obama – the elitist?7. What is your religion, really? And has the answer in the past changed as the South Carolina primary approached?8. Didn't President Bush betray you with his signing statement on the Detainee Treatment Act? You claim to be against torture, but aren't you a hypocrite for voting "no" on the Senate waterboaring ban?9. Why did you flip-flop on the Bush tax cuts you twice opposed? Why do you now support making them permanent for the wealthiest Americans who need them least?10. With the economy tanking, shouldn't Americans be concerned over your past statements that "the issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should?" 11. Is your Stage 2A melanoma, an invasive form of skin cancer that claims the lives of up to 34% of those diagnosed within 10 years, going to come back? 12. Wants to overturn Roe vs. Wade?

    July 28, 2008 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  21. Brian

    John McCain the candidate of the "haves." The nly thing we can be sure of is that he loves War and will leave the burden to pay for it to our children!

    July 28, 2008 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  22. Tom

    Since the 1965 Hart-Celler Immigration Act there has been an increase in the number of African Americans serving in Congress and in positions of power (Secretary of State, NSA Chief, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, etc.). By 2050 the overall population of America will be more than 50% minority. Even now more than 50% of the babies born in the U.S. are minority.

    Being that the country is more and more becoming a minority country we need to establish goals for when Affirmative Action can be ended like when median and household incomes among all races/ethnicities are the same. I don't think you can end something until you have deemed it's met it's goals and since median incomes among race/ethnicities in the U.S. are still different it's doubtful the goals have been met yet.

    July 28, 2008 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  23. A Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    So with 13% of the population and 95% voting for Obama, why should he or anyone support Affrimative Action?

    It just doesn't make sense to me that we would want to elect Obama as president of anything. He is an ego manic and has a bad hip. He can't shovel sand very well and he certainly can't bowl or drink beer.

    And Hillary whipped him soundly throughout the Mid West. Who is voting for this pigeon anyway? Guys with guns from Idaho and Montana? People from civilized states voted for Hillary. Give me a break.

    July 28, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  24. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    We already have laws against discrimination. Affirmative action programs are also a form of discrimination.

    Enforce the laws.

    July 28, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  25. Mike Dallas

    Sweetea: sweetie, the only source reporting the supposed liaison between his supposed mistress is National Enquirer. Now that is a paragon of virtue and integrity, would you believe in flying cows using their own produced methane to fly?

    Even if it is true, McCrypt left his first wife because she was disfigured in an auto accident. He was having an affair with Cindy during the intervening 5 years. Also, Cindy paid her off by providing medical care for life.

    Seems you have too much time int the checkout line at Safeway. Maybe, you need to stick that to very intellectual mag PEOPLE.

    July 28, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
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