July 28th, 2008
06:23 AM ET
6 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. Phil, FL

    This man is just an irrelevant has been that is too set in his ways and so backward that the entire world sees it.

    He'll forget what he said and reverse it again, depending on who he is talking to.

    He also voted against equal pay for women. Guess it doesn't affect anyone in his elitist wealthy family, so what's the big deal to him.

    BAD BAD BAD CHOICE

    We need to go forward, now backward.

    July 27, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  2. Moses, Ca.

    This won't grow legs, the media won't let it. Know if Obama goes to the gym again, the press will be there and run it for a news cycle. How is this not bias. McCain can't do anything wrong, if so, lt'll get edited.

    July 27, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  3. Phil, FL

    This man is just an irrelevant has been that is too set in his ways and so backward that the entire world sees it.

    He'll forget what he said and reverse it again, depending on who he is talking to.

    He also voted against equal pay for women. Guess it doesn't affect anyone in his elitist wealthy family, so what's the big deal to him.

    BAD BAD BAD CHOICE

    We need to go forward, NOT backward. <<< was typo in previous post.

    July 27, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  4. James TX

    I saw the forum...and yes, McCain "flipped" because it was he who earlier said that supporting initiatives aimed at ending race/gender preference were, and i quote, 'DIVISIVE'...apparently he does'nt think so anymore.

    July 27, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  5. lila

    "I support it," McCain said. Alas, McCain's mind had wondered again, during the question, and he was thinking about the "surge". All surge, All the time.

    July 27, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  6. Moses, Ca.

    And they say McWar is a problem for Barack. He's a problem for his self and the public. Why do people think of him as a threat????

    July 27, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  7. 2008 MINUTE MAN

    MCCAIN ITS A SHAME THAT YOUR GAME SO LAME. NOW ALL I HAVE IS DISDAIN AND FOR THE AIM OF YOUR REIGN.

    OBAMA 08

    July 27, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  8. Ellie, MD

    YES, McLame has flipped again and he will continue to flip until he flips himself back to Arizona. The man can't keep his statements straight or the facts straight when he's talking economy, foreign policies and on issues like abortion, etc.

    July 27, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  9. lila

    I'm sorry, I was distracted by my visions of the "surge". You mean there are other issues in the world? That's not why I'm running for president of the United States. "And these visions of The Surge, they kept me up past the dawn"...

    John McCain: All surge, All the time

    July 27, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  10. Moses, Ca.

    What's new....

    July 27, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  11. ThePhoenix

    Now Mr.McCain needs to take a page out of the Obama playbook and say he did'nt say what it was the media is saying. And then tell us why his words have been twisted.

    July 27, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  12. Leah DiMarco, Texas

    John McCain's memory is shot. He can't remember what he says from one day to another. He is just too old be president.

    America UNITE and vote for the best person for the job!

    Obama '08

    July 27, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  13. D.k

    McCain The Flip Flopper. Since when did you care about Minority Americans? Shame on you.

    July 27, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  14. Enlightened Voter

    Will you please stop questioning this man. Gosh, it's hard for him to decide what he stands for, what he said two days ago, what he's voted for or against in the past. He needs to keep focused on the surge and Iraq and bashing Obama. Give the man a bloody break will ya!

    July 27, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  15. Hans-Erik Iken

    Be fair people, he said that in 1998, that is 10 years ago. You cannot expect him to remember anything longer then 5 days ago, let alone 10 years.

    July 27, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  16. Obama-Junkie, IL

    This is just silly. McCain doesn't believe affirmative action, he believes in getting in having powerful contacts, like his grandfather and father who were high-rankings admirals or his second wife's father that o got him into the Naval Academy and into politics, respectively.

    July 27, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  17. sandy

    My, my, my, McCain can also flip-flop. He better watch it the next time he calls Obama out for flip-flopping. But, this guy says whatever it takes according to who he's talking too. Sorry, but in all due respect, this man is scarey, and he is too old. Sorry John, but I knew the first time I saw Obama speak at the democratic convention that he was special and I still think so, soooo, he's got my vote.

    July 27, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  18. clarity

    I think about the level of hypocrisy that resides in the mind of McCain.
    On Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday this year, he was out near the Lorraine Hotel soliciting votes from African Americans. His state fought against the King holiday being honored.

    So in hopes of getting votes from the disenfranchised of America he hops onto the affirmative action bandwagon? Unbelievable.
    Politics as usual... tell them what they want to hear today and hope like hell they don't remember what you said tomorrow.

    McCain will self-destruct before November.

    July 27, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  19. hitobito

    McCain can't remember that the Iranians are Shiites and do not support the Sunni Al Qaida in a span of 24 hours. He needs Joe Lieberman to whisper in his ear! And he wants to lead this country? If you think this country slipped down the slippery slope under Bush, wait for John McDummy" McCain. He does even know how to use a computer in this day and age. My friends its time for McCain to retire to a home for the aged.

    July 27, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  20. Ron Nebraska

    All you have to remember is that the current Republican party wants to make sure that government can not work to help average Americans.

    July 27, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  21. Steve

    Wow..If what is being said about McCain is true, he has managed to flip on a flip-flop. Supports an end to affirmative action in his state, then won't say if he supports it, then says he supports it. This goes beyond political maneuvering to just plain weird.

    Imagine what his foreign and domestic policies would be like. After a couple of years of McCain, we'd look back on the good ol' days of the Bush administration with pleasant memories....

    Fortunately most of American and the world see McCain for what he is.
    Maybe he'll remain a Senator until he's so old and forgetful that his aids have to remind him where he is, but he won't be our president.

    July 27, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  22. Moses, Ca.

    McCain flip-flops all the time and it doesn't get reported. Obama is a better story and the public will never know. And they wonder why the polls are close. the polls are close because the public don't hear the McFlops.

    July 27, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  23. Monica for Obama in Indiana

    I watched that interview and George was having a hard time, keeping a straight face with mccain. I think George did a good job of keeping him on target., because mccain, kept wanting to stray.

    I really think something is going on with mccain, physically as well as mentally. And another thing is that he is so angry with Obama and can't seem to release the anger.

    The answer to the question "Did mccain flip-flop" yes he did. The head of the RNC should really get him checked.

    July 27, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  24. Kay

    Of course, Mccain flip-flopped on this issue. He just won't admit it just as he won't admit that he exercised poor judgement in Iraq. Kicking the Russians out of th G-8 is another poor judgement call--no other member country supports him on this issue. Is it possible that they are all wrong???? Mccain will be very successful in bringing back the COLD WAR!!!!

    July 27, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  25. Moses, Ca.

    If the public hear about all of the McFlops, the polls will be wider for Obama.

    July 27, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
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