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. Informed Voter

    Why is it every time there's an article about Mc Cain .. you Obama haters always attack Obama .. say with the topic ... Since you all have nothing positive to say about Mc Cain . . you all attack Obama .. typical Repugnants

    July 28, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  2. Bradley Sherwood

    Flip my butt. Affirmative action is total crap. Fairness acrocss the board. Nobody should go first for any othewr reason but who is best NO MATTER WHAT THE COLOR OR GENDER! NOBAMA !

    July 28, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  3. David

    It appears that he simply answered without even knowing what he was talking about. Do we want a President who is so clueless?

    July 28, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  4. ProudToBeDemocrat

    This is what I call Flip,Flip,FLop John Mccain is Tooo Old and lier he would not ever remember what he ate an hour a go. This guy has a memory span of 5 min. As POW he had a lot of fear now he can not think with out thinking war. Time to retire and enjoy you millions with your wife and children Mr. Mccain this is the best advice I can give you.

    July 28, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  5. Janice

    Cynthia McKinney is alway a choice. She is certainly better then either Obama or McCain.

    18,000,000 vote McKinney

    July 28, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  6. McCain is the arrogant and the oppotunist

    July 27th, 2008 9:58 pm ET

    I really am starting to dislike Obama. Who the hell does he think he is already acting like the President? I think he is running on pure arrogance and I can not believe people do not see him for what he really is, and opportunist!

    Wake up America before it is too late. Vote McCain someone with real experience and knowledge of national security.

    McCain 08

    This is exatly the language of racist people. Everytime a black person stand proudly and share his thoughts, it s arrogance. Because off course, Black people should keep it shut, and say YES SIR. This was seen throughout american history. It bothers you that he is being called SENATOR or potential Future PRESIDENT when in YOUR mind he should be called BOY ! And it bothers you that he stands like a MAN AGAINST McCain attack when in YOUR MIND he should be sitting on the back of the bus.

    Obama only acts like a well balanced person who know his true worth. When McCain went around the world and made speeches, nobody thought he was arrogant. When McCain implies that only military services is an act of patriotism...or that he only has the experience or judgement when facts proove the contrary... DONT TELL ME Obama is the arrogant one. Or probably its Obama's succes that bothers you that much !

    And talking about oppotunist...I dunno what you call a man who leave his disabled wife and kids for a multibilionaire, young, influent woman and manages to get in the senat using in new inlaws relationships.

    July 28, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  7. UMBlue

    Good 'ole McSame . . . has turned his back on his own convictions and ideals simply to pander to the Republican "base" . . . He's got to change all his ideals simply to be considered relevant in this election.
    Are American's willing to put a man into the White House who is willing to change his ideals simply to get a vote? Heck, if GOP'ers are willing to vote for McCain just because he now toes the party line, why not just dress up a chimp in a suit, put a little American flag in its hand, and proclaim it as the next GOP candidate for the Presidency? GOP'ers would still vote for the chimp.
    Anyhow, just wait until Obama and McCain debate . . . McCain will get confronted with something difficult and either blow his cork – turning bright red with anger, or sit there stammering, stuttering, and bumbling like an idiot without an answer. Mark my words – McCain will demand questions in advance of any debate . . . mark my words!

    July 28, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  8. Theresa Jones, Mesa, Arizona

    I don't believe Mr. McCain flipped his position. However, if he did, at least it is better than holding two opposite positions at the same time as Mr. Obama does.

    Obama 2008: Preaching "change" and promising more of the same!

    July 28, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  9. SMOQ

    McCain has made it painfully obvious that he is out of touch, doesn't look presidential, and on foreign policy matters, is out of touch by a good 15- 20 years with even where these countries are on the map, who we are fighting in Iraq and who we are cooperating with, and he thinks Pakistan and Iraq share a border..or maybe that part of his master plan, bomb Iraq off the map and Iraq will then share that border...darn warmonger...and you complain about Obama looking Presidential with the world leaders happy to see him..........instead of falling on his face as you all wished he would with this Trip thru the EU.
    This speaks to his experience in dealing with people in a straight forward manner.
    He is meeting every challenge that the old guard throws at him and pretty soon you will only be able to talk about the real issues instead of mud slinging.........as you soo often do....to distract the media and the public

    July 28, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  10. Raymond Duke

    The reason that america is becoming a minority nation is because our immigration laws or not followed. We let people who get visa's over stay. We let the big corporations bring in people on HB1 visas to take american jobs from India Etc that we have plenty of qualified applicants but refuse to take the job for 20,000 dollars under the rightful pay scale. Last we will not seal our border properly. We have all nationality of peoples running across the border and spitting out " Anchor Babies" at american taxpayer expense every 9 months. That is the reason we are becoming a minority nation. Who is responsible for this," Corporations and Left wing liberals". Both selling america out . The big corporations for greed and exploitation and the liberals, "well because they are just igornant">

    July 28, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  11. McCain Lies!

    Hey people Affirmative action is not just for african americans it is for women (even white women) and minorities. So be careful mr mccain, sounds like you want to turn this back into a white male dominated society. We know your against women (your recent vote against a bill that would guarentee women equal pay) but you shouldn't be so blatent about it.

    July 28, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  12. AntiBrenda

    This is a sennile man who would do well in a burger king restaurant McFlipping burgers. And for you all McFlip surrogates....notice the spelling of "restaurant" . Apparrently most of you, just like McShame, cannot even spell a word correctly. No wonder who you are supporting. 'BIRDS OF A FEATHER DO WHAT....?"
    McPerrish together.

    July 28, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  13. Iris

    McCain is an elderly, grumpier version of Eddie Haskell, from Leave It To Beaver fame. This character was hypocritical, showing a positive face when he chose. But behind everyone's back he constantly schemed. Getting his rival to go to the Middle East , and then blaming him for doing so, is a Haskell like move. So is his aiming at his competitor for an occasion beyond his control like not being allowed to visit troops face to face.

    Voters think they get to see McCain giving straight talk, but don't be taken in. We've already Nixon, and we should know the signs and destructiveness by now.

    July 28, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  14. Julie

    McCain is actually supporting equal rights – isn't he?
    This makes sure that race and gender don't matter.

    Some people should stop being so pissy about republican vs democrat and just listen to issues.....

    July 28, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  15. A CANUCK

    If I hear McCain say "SURGE" one more time I'M GOING TO PUKE !!!

    July 28, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  16. LLMTruth

    CNN, I humbly request that you post this comment, since you've rejected every other post I have made. Why, I don't know.

    Lynne said:

    "He didn't even take time from his basbetball playing to see our injured soldiers….."

    It's obvious your hatred for the man has blinded you to cold hard facts. First of all, the basketball playing you are referring to occured during his viisit to Iraq not Germany. Secondly, it wasn't the media that provided the image, it was the U.S. military's camera crew that took the video of Obama's three-pointer.

    Why don't you try getting your facts straight so you can make better informed decisions, instead of your obvious hatred for the man for some reason or another.

    This explicitly exposes the true underlying problem with some people in this country. Thus eight years of one of the most inapt Presidents this country has seen since its inception.

    July 28, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  17. S.M

    Why are some white people always complaining about affirmative action. Weren't some of their parents or they themselves admitted to a certain University because they're parents attended that particular college? Even if they didn't have the grade point average, they were still allowed to attend the parents almateur. Let's take our current President for example; we all know that he didn't have the smarts nor the grades to attend his father's former college, but yet he was accepted. Therefore, he and others have benefited from affirmative action long before this word was ever invented. Let us stop fooling ourselves if some White people would stop teaching their children racism, than African Americans wouldn't need Affirmative action because everyone would be treated fairly. If Jesus decided to withhold his salvation from the Gentiles, not only would African Americans be in trouble, but White people as well. Satan knows just what to use to keep God's children divided and fighting amongst themselves.

    July 28, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  18. Richard

    The answer is...No he did not!

    July 28, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  19. Kelby from Houston, TX

    Did anybody see his interview with George Stephanapolous (hope I spelled that right) George attempted to quote him several times and it seemed like each time McCain denied ever saying that. And you just know that he did. It was like one long senior moment.
    This guy is SUPER OLD and I know old

    July 28, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  20. Nikki, Florida

    Wait, wait, wait! When McCain FALSELY accuses Obama of flipping, the headlines are "Obama's a flip-flopper" but when McCain ACTUALLY flips, it's "Is McCain a flip-flopper???".

    So much for unbiased media.

    July 28, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  21. Remy

    How many days you will take to moderate my comments?

    July 28, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  22. Janet

    John McCain "flip flopping" ? How shocking. His feelings about affirmative action were already evident, by his refusal to allow the MLK holiday.

    July 28, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  23. FLIP FLOP!!!!!

    John McCain's comments on affirmative action led Obama to charge that he 'flipped' his position..........When it comes to Senator McCain he changed his Mind ....which is natural as a Human being .......BUT according to McCain and camp if Senator Obama change his Mind It's A FLIP FLOP
    Please Senator McCain Promise not to use the word SURGE This WEEK ........Thank YOU SIR!!!!

    July 28, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  24. Obama Supporter from Texas

    To Informed Voter, I agree! Stay with the topic at hand.

    July 28, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  25. Natasha

    This is not a surprise. The reason Obama has the Black vote is because we simply know better. Whether that be Hillary or McCain, their both loser. If the world has embrace him then something is wrong with White America.

    July 28, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
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