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. rev

    By this time, I doubt McCain remembers his middle name, much less what issues he's for or against.

    July 28, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  2. SMOQ

    Ah ha,once again his true colors stand out..he opposes equal pay for women as well as equal pay and monitoring to make sure that the handicapped and other minorities are not discriminated against....

    July 28, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  3. John

    Amazing how the media is so desparate to put a man down who was a genuine hero, served our country in the senate for years, is experienced, all in favor of a junior senator who never held a job in his entire life, and people have the gall to compare to JFK

    Affirmative Action is alive andwell

    July 28, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  4. lenny

    Affirmative action is a JOKE AND SHOULD BE done away with.

    July 28, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  5. World Sick of RepubliCONS

    Man, neocons are full of retards. They give us reagan, bush sr., bush jr. and now they parade grandpa john "Senile" mccain–the neocons reject from 2000.

    July 28, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  6. PUMA 4 HILL

    Affirmative action isn't balanced and it does need to eiter be changed to reflect representation for reverse descrimination or revoked all together.

    July 28, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  7. Open Your 3rd Eye

    He's flippes on just about EVERY issue. Why not this one?

    July 28, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  8. Jack

    Jim July 27th, 2008 9:42 pm ET

    When was he ever in favor of affirmative action? How does this represent a position change? This article makes zero sense. Does CNN just reproduce O!'s latest press release now?


    You summed up the extent of journalism on these blogs. Press releases are quoted and we (the reader) are told how to "feel" about the article either directly or through the language used. Never an investigation or facts presented in an unbiased way.

    What I don't understand is why they apparently only get press releases from the two major parties. I'm positive Nader, Rep. Barr and McKinney are releasing some.

    ** Nader/Gonzalez 2008 **

    July 28, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  9. PUMA 4 HILL

    And Obama acts as though affirmative action needs to apply to the position of the presidency too. You don't need experience, it's just time to hire a black person for the presidency so let' just do it....

    NOT!!! NEVER!!!

    July 28, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  10. Orlando for Obama

    It sounds like MeAin't-Leaving-Iraq fan base is trying to compare Barack to McSpinner. Get over it. He does not remember how he voted.

    July 28, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  11. Alan Boyer

    he will continue to do what is necessary to get more white voters to vote for him.

    July 28, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  12. Mark

    Yes he did. And he knows it.

    July 28, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  13. Bob Stephens

    Weather Vane McSame, flips on just about every subject you can name, sometimes multiple times. This is no surprise at all, but rather, his normal mode of the double talk express in action.

    July 28, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  14. JB

    This is unfair CNN

    If you want to accuse McCain of flip flopping, then you must call out Obama for many of his "changes" in policy.

    Ask him about his "conditioned based" withdrawal from Iraq.
    Without letting him say, "well we should have never got in in the first place". That is not an answer.

    Ask him about paying for illegal aliens health care. His poicy covers illegals. He denies it but then says it covers 49 million uninsured, which includes illegals. He is becoming a savvy politician. Something I despise!!!

    July 28, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  15. TyWebb


    July 28, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  16. Phil From VA

    Mcsame is a joke. 894 out of 899.. this is what you get.

    July 28, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  17. prairieguy

    Waiting for his next flip flop.

    I am so happy to hear he learned a new word yesterday on ABC...
    UNDERSTAND...I lost count of how many times he used it.

    Maybe today he will learn via Lieberman or Graham what he really believes....until it becomes politicaly right for him to change his mind again!

    July 28, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  18. Alan Boyer

    John McCain visited the same world leaders as Obama. No one challenged McCain's visits. However, Obama is arrogant for doing the same thing. This is the height of double-standards between blacks and whites. The real difference is that no one cared when McCain traveled abroad.

    July 28, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  19. Obamacan

    ...And then we talk about double standards in the media. If Obama would have done something like this, the very same media that according to the McWar campaign is in love with Obama would have dedicate 18 out of the 24 hrs to cover this....

    Yet McSame does it, and it's like if it never happened.

    I really can't understand how this old man is actually getting more than 30% of the votes....

    If America elects McSame, even after every indication he's given is that he'll follow G.W.B policies, and go even further and bom, bom, bom Iran, the world would just look at us in disbelieve and laugh.

    Wake up America...It's time for REAL CHANGE.

    Republicans for OBAMA 08

    July 28, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  20. w.l. jones

    I remember affirmactive action very well when I were a kid in school one group had a pretty red brick building we had world war two barack . They had new book we had old hand me down book from them. Most of our teacher never finish eight grade not to mention high school ,yet we were to compete in the work force,what a joc.

    July 28, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  21. usmc

    We can only hope that Obama doesn't get elected it would be the end of this great nation as we know it. With all of his terrorist ties (william ayers) anti white anti American friends (rev. Wright, and his own wife) his agenda will be clear help the black man and screw the white man. It is funny how 90 something percent of blacks can vote for him but not have people say blacks are racist but yet if 90 something percent of whites were voting for Mccain everyone would say that whites are racist i mean comon blacks are still playing the race card every chance they get meanwhile there are so many white Obama supporters. This country needs a wake up call and when they elect Obama i can't wait to see how whtie America goes from kissing his backside to realizing wow we made a good mistake. Nothing wrong with a black president as long as he loves this countrya nd doesn't have ties to anti americans and terrorists. Colin Powell would have been prefect i would have voted for him over Mccain but he isn;t there. This isn't about color but in at the same time this one black man is no good

    July 28, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  22. SMOQ

    for you silly opponents to affirmative action, you know that under qualified people are only hired if they are white, most minorities including women are forced to sink or swim, and most get no consideration if not for affirmative action programs look at the management levels of college and pro sports, if not forced to seek out qualified minority candidates, they never would even look for them. once again the only under qualified people hired by any business in America are WHITE and employers have admitted overlooking qualified African Americans for a range of bogus reasons, or rather stereotypes simply for the color of your skin. Be real now, women can get a lil reprieve if they are pretty, but if they are too underqualified even a pretty face goes so far, the handicapped, for real they get look all the way over even if qualified darn near need an act of congress for them to get a job with handicapped access......Now foreigners..let's see they easily get jobs in too many instances they are sought out, and horribly underpaid in too many instances...And with the new guest worker rules being discussed, these job will be easier to hide from Americans and fro the government regulators, who are having their of over sight and regulation stripped away as we speak....

    July 28, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  23. proud army and navy mom

    To Karen in Houston

    I know one thing,over half my check will not be going to the govenment.

    "McCain The Vote"

    July 28, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  24. J

    McCain, just drop out. Lives are at stake.

    July 28, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  25. Canada

    Let's see now,

    Bomb bomb bomb Iran

    Let's hope the cigerette's kill them

    I would kick Russia out of the G8



    July 28, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
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