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. fafa

    McCain Flip Flopped again and he is getting away with it. AGIAN!

    July 27, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  2. ramon chen

    "Barack Obama, on the other hand, has held consistant positions through the years and there's documentable accounts of where he stands"

    He's moved to the center on almost every social issue, while maintaining his far left positions on the economy, as an independent I would have preferred that he moved in opposite directions....most respected economist (i.e. not Lou Dobbs) agree that his policies will make the economy even worse. ....it seems as if nobody remembers that his policies had already failed in the 70s (and in France).

    Obama will win easily, but that would be because of george w bush not because he is a good candidate.
    Let's just hope that Ben Bernanke ignores him

    July 27, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  3. Marie in California

    Sounds to me like McCain reviews each item regarding quotas individually, and then makes a considered decision on each instead of just making a blanket statement expected to cover all. A rather admirable trait.

    I'd much rather see each item get individual attention and a studied decision than have an overall policy regarding such things that doesn't take into account the various differences in each proposal.

    And yes.....afirmative action IS a quota system!

    And yes......Obsama flip-flops like a fish out of water!

    Was for Hillary, now for McCain!

    July 27, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  4. Daniel, VA

    CNN, you are so biased that you are talking about flipping by mcCain and you are supported by Al Sharpton. It shows you are so liberal. You do not have any credibility neither you ahve anythign else to publish here. You are getting lot of kudos from these liberal comments here.

    July 27, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  5. debbie

    American people need to be very aware and cautious when it comes to John McCain. I believe he is forgetting his previous positions that he has stated...It is vervy scary. He also has stated again about taking a position on something but not aware of the details or information on why he's taken that position...with all the serious problems that America faces today, I can only imagine what it would be like if he was in the white house as forgetful as he is becomming

    July 27, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  6. K of TX

    I wish the media would stop picking sides just to try to make this race close.



    July 27, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  7. therealist

    ABC's "This Week," hosted by George Stephanopoulos

    If that doesn't scream liberal biased opinion being force fed to you..., then nothing will.

    July 27, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  8. deroy

    affirmative action is reverse racism.
    it was never meant to apply to non-US born minorities.
    it's another NIXON plan that spun out of control.

    July 27, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  9. Rob indetroit

    Hmm, sounds like bush in 1999.Well my friends I will do anything to be president even sell out my principles.

    July 27, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  10. Charlotte

    Obama flips, McCain flips, they both are lousey choices. I have not flipped I will still write Hillary on my ballot in November, both of these guys scare me.

    July 27, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  11. Megan

    HAha. Old Fogie is senile and can't remember the stuff he does/says. Good job there McCain. I cannot wait for you to NOT be our President.

    July 27, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  12. J Carl

    It occurred to me just last night that, by putting McCain forth as their candidate, the Republicans are intentionally committing political suicide.

    I think that they realize how badly they've damaged the country over the last 8 years. They know THEY have no way to fix it. Putting McCain forward (and him losing) will let them simply "cut and run".

    It will be up to the Dems to fix things ... given the chance, I think Obama has great potential to do just that.

    July 27, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  13. Obama 08: mature, white woman

    Just like McCain must be regretting wanting Obama to go oversees, he is probably regretting whining about media coverage. Finally, his inconsistencies are getting the scrutiny that the voters need.
    What has been [posted here is just the tip of the ice berg.

    July 27, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  14. jamesp

    Well, Looks like Gandpappy MCwarlord is caught once again with further proof of his failing memory sagging around is ankles.

    July 27, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  15. ANGIE

    Mcain is flipping out again!!!!!!!!!!

    July 27, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  16. Donna from Colorado Springs

    Of course McCain flip flopped, He only agrees with an idea when it politically favors him. He is a big hypocrite who goes with the flow.

    July 27, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  17. Steve

    McCain says he opposes affirmative action. There are many proposals to ending and altering it. This is an ideal that has run its course.

    How can Obama support a divisive policy like affirmative action and preach unity? He speaks from both sides of his mouth.

    July 27, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  18. JuleS, Chicago

    Yes, I support it. Next week: No, I never said I supported it. Week after that: What was it I was supporting? Following day: What year is it?

    July 27, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  19. Michael

    I agree it is time for affirmative action to end. It is discriminatory and no longer nescessary. I mean, an African American is the National Nominee of the Democratic Party vying for the #1 power position in the free world!

    I would think that it was effective and that it is indeed time eliminate the discrimination that Affirmative action causes.

    July 27, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  20. JuleS, Chicago

    Caption on photo accompanying article:

    Sen. John McCain pauses while trying to remember what party he belongs to.

    July 27, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  21. Mike Dallas

    Talk about flip-flopping this pathetic old geezer cannot remember from one week until the next what his stance is on affirmative action?
    It is very telling when your own campaign staff will not comment on the "gaffe".

    Or, could it just be that as the aspiring Flip Flopper in Chief wannna be, he is for it/against it depending upon whether he is in Arizona or another state?

    I see a finger in the air testing the wind or is it just McCrypt's way of simply giving the finger to the American public?

    July 27, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  22. Ron, Charlottesvile VA

    Has it been mentioned yet that John McCain is a BIG flip-flopper, worse than Kerry supposedly was?

    Why yes, it seems it has!

    July 27, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  23. ldp

    McSame has flipped because he and his cynical camp think they have found a "wedge issue" to disract attention from the dismal performance of his campaign. I'm afraid the Republican ugliness is just beginning. Hold on to your hats.

    July 27, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  24. JohnD

    Four years ago, we gave him a free ticket to Georg Bush, hoping that he might have gained experience. instead he caused more damage. I did not vote for him But I'm paying the price for the fellow voters. Please watch at this time! Do not vote for McCain. He is too danger's for our country.

    July 27, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  25. Jim

    Let's give credit to McCain for having firm convictions, taking risks and stating clear positions – NOT! Who knows what this man stands for? Leadership means explaining what you stand for and the reasons for your position, not just repeating conservative sound bites.

    July 27, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
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