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. proud army and navy mom

    To World Sick of RepubliCONS,

    Reagan was one of the greatest Presidents of all time....... Name one president in the last 50 years that accomplished half of what Reagan did. He single handedly brought Russia to there knees. I guess Clinton did that as well with Monica but she wasnt a world power. Kennedy, and lets not forget the moron Carter (he was my favorite haha).

    Its scary people like you are able to vote

    July 28, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  2. James

    Obama jumped to a significant 9-point lead over GOP rival John McCain – his largest lead since the Gallup Poll began tracking the general election horse race in March. Obama tops McCain, 49% to 40%, among registered voters nationwide, Gallup's daily tracking poll conducted from Thursday to Saturday revealed. The latest survey results represent a "continuation of Obama's front-runner position," Gallup pollster Frank Newport noted Sunday.

    July 28, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  3. McCain lady

    informed voter–we have to balance out all of the nasty comments that Obama bloggers make, unfairly, about McCain, because you all jump on McCain or adulate Obama as soon as the blogs are posted. Can we knock off the age discrimination?–McCain is healthier mentally and physically than Obama. His memory is superior as he does not need a teleprompter or text nessager during his answers!

    July 28, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  4. Mike in Houston

    Is anyone suprised by McCain's change on this issue. And i read a few entries that talk about AA is not fair and ruining the country.

    You AA oppenents have ruined what was supposed to give an even playing field. The purpose of AA was to make sure that QUALIFIED non white male applicantswas being considered. So what you anti AA folks have done is give the non qualified applicants positions, and then when they fail due to they were not qualified in the first place, you cry that AA does not work and you have to do it for quota purposes.

    McCain, if you don't support AA then fine but don't get infront of the NAACP and act like you care about black issues. Don't get up infront of the NHC (National Hispanic Council) and act like you care about Hispanic issues. Don't act like you care about Women issues either. Just keep giving your speeches to white men in German Village in Columbus, which white men are the only one's you only care about anyway.

    I can't believe that I considered voting for you McCain.

    July 28, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  5. v.a.

    hahahahaha this man is so incredibly senile. it's quite entertaining actually.

    July 28, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  6. Typical White Person

    Ending affirmative action isn't divisive...

    Affirmative action is what is divisive.

    Anytime that a government contract sets aside a certain amount to go to minority businesses a business that is better run or makes a better bid is going to be rejected because of the race of the owner (white). That's racism and it's divisive.

    Anytime a college application is "weighted" because the applicant is from a minority group a student with better grades, better attendance, better community work, etc. is going to be denied acceptance to their choice of University because of his/her race (white). That's racism and it's divisive.

    Anytime a promotion is given to a minority to avoid an EEOC audit a person with more experience or better qualifications is going to be denied the promotion (or hire) because of his/her race (white). That's racism and it's divisive.

    In this day and age, every single child in this country (whether here legally or not) has access to an education that is adequate to compete if they CHOOSE to take advantage of it.

    And before all the bleeding hearts start in about how poor inner city schools are, let me tell you that I went to public schools in the south where we were ranked 49th in the country. And it didn't stop me from working hard and getting ahead. It may have taken me longer than it did a Kennedy with a private education and a family name, but I still got ahead – all by myself – without affirmative action and without preferential treatment in college funding or admission.

    July 28, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  7. Jimmy in NYC

    McCain Flip Flops again...who cares since he will say anything to stay relevant in the press.
    Did anyone see how happy the other world leaders were to meet with senator Obama? And he is not even the president(yet)!

    I tire of the arguments that Obama is egotistical. He is trying his best to serve the United States. Do we not deserve the best? Do we need someone with 'decades' of experience but lousy judgement?

    I personally think that his idea that we need WORLD troops and not just American troops to resolve these conflicts is brilliant.
    McCain doesn't really respect the American soldiers because he is willing to send them into harm's way with or without the proper backing of our other world troops.
    So go ahead and hate the 'smart, elitist, egomaniac' that puts his own life on the line(That Middle East tour could have been downright dangerous) so that the McCainiacs could sleep well and wake up to criticize Mr. Obama the next day!
    Obama in 08!

    July 28, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  8. RJ, CA

    Clearly there's a contest underway among the Obama people as to who can be most repugnantly "creative" in mis-using the McCain name! How pitiful!

    July 28, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  9. dave g, minneapolis

    The candidates are flip-floppers...let's stop arguing about that.

    Affirmative Action or any "positive" right is wrong. AA and Hate crimes and other laws that give special preference to one "victim" over another are not beneficial to the message of equality.

    Let's reduce the amount of government intrusion in our lives. It's typical of democrats and republicans now to grow government. How does a $300 billion bailout of mortgage industry help? it doesn't, it delays the inevitable. And allocating hundreds of Millions of $$$ to "counsel" individuals who have mortgage problems is lunacy.

    Barr '08

    July 28, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  10. Jim

    McCain = Flip-flopper and WHINER in Chief!

    McBush is a total joke. He can't even figure out his own policy. Maybe he needs to consult with his GOP puppet masters to find out.....

    July 28, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  11. Tim

    I am an Obama supporter. Let me say that I think that it fair for any candidate to change their mind on an issue with more information in hand. But here is the problem. John McCain made this a fight to win votes by trying to tie the flip flop term on Obama, when in fact he has changed his stance on issues as well. You can't have it both ways McCain.

    July 28, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  12. BWM

    I am embarrased that McCsane is the candidate Obama has to compete with. McSane knows as much about issues that Americans are faced with as my youngest grandchild who is five months old.McSane needs to deal with his own issues, anger management, bi-polar , post-tramatic stress disorder and living in a fantasy world. The world has changed and he is not even aware of it. He is still stuck in the 60's. I applaud his service to this country, but what about the thousand of lives lost as a result of this needless war in Iraq. He says he knows how to win wars, What war did he win?

    July 28, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  13. dave g, minneapolis

    Watching CNN this weekend they had a piece that led with the graphic above the anchor "McCain's ANGER". then they played a nice interview with him in which no one was angry! Why the bias? Is CNN just trying to tell people what to think.

    Barr for President '08

    July 28, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  14. elmerg

    Is there anything left this "maverick" hasn't changed his position on since he was nominated?

    July 28, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  15. Jim P

    Affirmative action has essentially destroyed this country. Unskilled, unqualified stooges receiving jobs on account of some supposed oppression. Case in point – Obama! It's an absurdity that this man is even being considered for the Presidency of the U.S.!

    July 28, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  16. CLH

    Yes, McCain doesn't mind Chenney's Halliburton ripping off American taxpayers with millions (billions?) of dollars in no-bid contracts but heaven forbid that women and minorities who disparity studies have demonstrated to be excluded from government funded contracts would want a piece of the pie. If Senator McCain knew anything about affirmative action programs today he would know that quotas are history but goals that reflect the availability of excluded groups are the standards to aspire to. Does any body really think McCain got into West Point because of his brains or the original affirmative action, alumni preference?

    July 28, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  17. Independent-woman-4-Obama

    THE FACT IS: that in the USA it is very difficult for a Black man to get be hired, even today. That's a fact, if you don't believe me, Google the statistics.

    McCain will say anything to be elected. HE HAS FLIPPED OVER AND OVER. He says what the NAACP wants to hear when he spoke to them a couple of weeks ago!

    And then when he speaks to LA RAZA he tells them what they want to hear about "fair and just immigration" and how he (McCain) worked with Teddy Kennedy on a Bill for Reforming immigration laws, WHICH BY THE WAY THE FAR-RIGHT WERE UP SET ABOUT.

    Then when McCain speaks in front of the far-right, he tells them about the wall to keep "illegals" out...... pander.........pander.

    "BOMB...........BOMB...........BOMB IRAN!"


    July 28, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  18. Which way Is UP!!!!

    It is Ok to change your Mind .....The ? is why is it when Senator Obama change his Mind.....Senator McCain calls it FLIP FLOP .......and if he changes his mind it is not a FlIp Flop ........Just CURIOUS !!!!

    July 28, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  19. BWM

    I'm not surprised. Anyone of color is always considered arrogant if he or she has half a brain. Watch out! We have often been referred to as uppity---. Did anyone see In the heat of the night? Virgil Tibbs was referred to as arrogant, if not mistaken.

    July 28, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  20. Derek

    Mark Twain said: "Always tell the truth. That way you don't have to remember what you said." McCain's problem is that he is now a serial liar. He cannot be trusted. He cannot even trust himself.

    July 28, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  21. Joe

    Why is it when a democrat changes his mind about something the republicans accuse him of "flip-flopping", but when a republican changes his mind about something it is touted as an "informed change of opinion based on the facts"?

    July 28, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  22. lovable liberal

    McCain strongly and resolutely states what he believes. Problem is it changes from day to day – he can't seem to stick to any one position except that he should be President.

    July 28, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  23. Henry n New York

    McCain has more filp/flops in him than a pair of f flip/flop shoes. I guess his new slogan is I WOULD RATHER FLIP OR FLOP THAN LOOSE AN ELECTION

    July 28, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  24. Sammy

    I have been reading some of the comments and frankly, I'm vry amused. Some are suggesting that both Obama and McCain are jokes; are these people living in the US of A? Isn't GW the president? Wasn't he voted for twice? I can't see how anybody can call McCain or Obama a joke while they hod on to old GW as president.

    July 28, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  25. LLMTruth

    McCain flip flopping,......Noooooo couldn't be. Just chalk up another one of a very long and illustrious list of 'I don't have a clue, McCain'.

    July 28, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27