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. Lee from FL

    To be honest, both of them are "flip-floppers"

    When is McCain is going to stop the attacks and start talking about the economy.

    McCain made his overseas trip and so did Obama,its just that Mr. Obama's was 200,000 times better.

    please stop talking about the "Surge"

    can the surge fix the economy?

    July 27, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  2. S. Boatman

    Mccain Is Looking More Like A Waffle Every Day! Today He Will Flip, Tomorrow He Will Flop, And Then He Will Flip Flop Again! Mccain Lacks The Judgement To Make A Decision And Stick With It!

    July 27, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  3. bobby from MS

    How appriopriate you can only comment when Obama is criticizing
    McCain. I wonder why people couldn't comment when Obama didn't go visit the troops. I thaught the media was suppose to be objective and fair. So much for CNN being fair and balance.

    Get out of the tank for Obama and call the presidential race fairly.

    July 27, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |

    If most people in this country could take a step back and look at these two men running for the most powerful position in the world, why are we even talking about McCain? If this last week of McCains campaigning says anything about how he will run the country then good luck. What a resentful tired old politician without any policies that will move us forward as a nation and his foreign policy is stuck in the cold war years.

    July 27, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  5. Sick of Bush

    What's left that he hasn't flip flopped on? Maybe he'll switch his support to Obama by November.

    July 27, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  6. NPA

    McCain reminds me of the Mitt Romney of republican primary: whatever it takes to generate votes. Only Mitt lost the primary.

    July 27, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  7. go away mongers- Ventura ca

    The choice this year is VERY clear: Progress with Obama, or BACKWARDS with McCain!

    July 27, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |

    Mcflip will be the worst president ever! He does not get it in any of the issues, remains anti women and is already showing signs of Altsheimer. He has stressed he needs education on economy ! He must go to school at least to learn how to write a mail!

    July 27, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  9. S. Boatman

    Knock Knock, . . . . Who Is There? . . . . The Flipping Flopper Flop Fliper! . . . . . Come On In John!

    July 27, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  10. Mike

    For a couple of days CNN has showed a Poll that says Obama is viewed as the 'Risky' candidate and that mcWar shares more 'Common' values with Americans. As an average American guy, I just could not understand this. Why would McWar who threatens war after never ending war be the less risky candidate? And how does this elitist multi millionaire corporate puppet reflect my values? The answer was finally revealed when I saw the Wall street Jounal Logo on the Poll. Aw Come on CNN ! The subscibers of the Wall Street Jounal are not an accurate reflection of every day Americans. Get real!

    July 27, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  11. James in Kamiah

    Affirmative action has been greatly deluded into what it was meant to fight against; discrimination. The only real outcome being resentment.

    It has allowed companies to hire "token" or "the minimum required" minorities, perpetuated/enabled a practiced excuse... namely "What, my company isn't racist... see, Sarah is black, and she's been working here for years," and completely missed a critical factor... People who are forced against their will to accept what they don't want to, are likely harboring those same opinions.

    While I am an Obama supporter and will be voting for him come election time, affirmative action has simply allowed prejudices to go underground, and allowed an opportunist like John McCain to spin the issue as if he's seen the underlying issue for what it was all along. Something "his record" shows, is a newly taken stance. Talk about playing to the peoples prejudices; sheesh.

    July 27, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  12. John McShame, Obama Is Going to Tax You & Cindy, but Not Me & 95% Americans Making < $250,000/Yr

    McCain did not only flipped for political expediency, he cannot remember if he voted for or against affirmative action.

    mccain's judgement & voting record = paralysis!!!!!

    July 27, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  13. Jim in Orlando

    Affirmative Action is discrimination. It is divisive. Too many politicians have been bullied into supporting this worst of policies by the race-pimp politicians and "community activists." Good for McCain to finally say "Enough".

    July 27, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  14. Kevin

    Obama has been a flip flopper all his life.

    July 27, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  15. Lisa

    Was this the debate aganist Mccain we were all waiting for?

    July 27, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  16. Kevin

    Mccain has been a flip flopper all his life. I made a mistake please do not publish my comment about Obama.

    July 27, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  17. NPA

    During the primary, Mitt Romney threw the poor Mexicans working at his mention under the bus just to be able to argue with McCain that he does not support undocumented aliens. Now McCain is using this to generate votes from xenophobes.

    July 27, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  18. ex-Republican for Obama

    Yes McWar flip-flopped and yes he lacks the judgment and knowledge
    to be a good commander-in-chief. He has shown in statements he doesn't know which countries border Iraq and he voted to start the war.
    His experience helped steer this country in the wrong direction. HE HAS PRESENTED NO DOMESTIC POLICY AND OFFERS NOTHING BUT PERSONAL ATTACKS ON OBAMA'S JUDGMENT, KNOWLEDGE, EXPERIENCE AND NOW CHARACTER. This is not an honorable man and those tactics won't work this time.

    July 27, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  19. Raymond Duke

    If he beleived in affirmative action in the past I hope he has changed his mind on it. Afirmative action is nothing but a handout to people based on their color, gender and ethinicity. We should be hiring or letting a person who is most qualified be hired or have the position.no matter what their color , gender or ethinicity is. It is nothing but a program that forces people to hire or give a position to an under qualified person. Our goverment is a prime example of this failed policy. Hiring quotas instead of hiring the most qualified. Then we want to criticize the goverment for being so incompetent. Besides , since the 1960's we have given every opportunity for all these groups to educate theirselves and improve their conditions. There is no reason to continue this program. If these groups can't make it on their own merit by this time with all the breaks that have been given to them they never will. Nice job cnn still trying to play the race card to help Obama. You are bad enough on tv that I don't even watch it anymore. It looks like the cnn writers or trying the same thing. It is easy to see where your biases lay. Why don't you people just come out and say we are for Obama instead of trying to act like you are fair and impartial.

    July 27, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  20. obama is unfit to be president of this country

    You will NEVER be as good as John McCain. You are an absolute joke.

    July 27, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  21. Dolly,

    Is CNN the official Obama campaign website with it's 'join the Obama campaign button"?

    July 27, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  22. David from Florida

    Obama is just looking for some meat to grab onto. Where is the evidence that McCain had a complete flip-flop of positions in a short amount of time?

    By the way, people change over time, because they are human and they discover things that open thier eyes.

    P.S. Affirmative Action just hurts any white person's chances of getting a good education. I believe that the best of the best should get into the colleges and jobs. If a minority person wants to get a good education or a good job, he should work for it. And be compared to all other applicants not just his ethnic group.

    July 27, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  23. GERRY


    July 27, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  24. Alan Boyer

    why are we surprised!!!!

    July 27, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  25. Griff

    It's as Joh McCain Said.. You would rather win your Own Campagne and Lose the War in Iraq.... But then You are an Arab, and you think like an Arab... To John McCain, The War in Iraq is at the Top of His Agenda...

    July 27, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
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