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. arlene, CA

    McSame did flipp AGAIN!! he does not know what he says from day to day. Obama has shown he could be a world leader, Obama has the right judgment, McSame just gets angry & frustrated & tries to find some thing to attack Obama on, because Obama is doing so well. Obama you are doing amazing!!!

    July 27, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  2. Sharon

    Yes, John McCain did change positions on affirmative action. I have discovered he also makes many gaffe's, forgets, and has lied which were verified.Flip Flops so much more than any candidate I have seen.

    John McCain has been complaining and criticizing Obama personally and his trip aboard all week long. This Republican now changes station quite quickly when he comes on.

    Sure wish media would jump and confront him more. Do a little research – surprise. – whoops what he said is not true.

    July 27, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  3. Billy. LA

    CNN-do you ever read your own Ticker?--the articles are 95% favorable to Obama and 10% favorable to McCain. Are you a news media outlet or a pawn for Obama? At least admit what you are.

    You should head every article–"Obama is our Messiah and CNN supports THE ONE.". Then everyone could decide if they want to read the article.

    July 27, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  4. J.Abrams

    Finally, CNN does a story about McCain.

    Wait ... it's a negative story. Typical.

    July 27, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  5. Sis

    John McCain is so much a gentleman, He has the ammunition to blow Barak out of the water if and when he chooses to use it!
    Obama had a hidden reason for noy taking public funds and going to the mid-east.
    Ask him WHO'S credit card account did those thousands of small donations came from, Iran? China" and so on!
    When Obama takes off that mask, God help us all.

    July 27, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  6. KevinPenn Sr Alabama [Teamsters Local 402]

    bush-mccain as usual.I put their names in lower case letters to show that they don't deserve respect.Flip flop mccain!!!!!!!!!

    July 27, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  7. Mike in Baltimore

    Affirmative Action does NOT mean quotas.

    I'll say it again: Affirmative Action does NOT mean quotas.

    ANYONE who states that in all cases that Affirmative Action means quotas is not cognizant of the law, is using political talking points of the right-wing, and probably also thinks that blacks are not discriminated against in the US.

    Just goes to prove the old Nazi Germany propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels' meme – the people will not believe the little lie, so make it a big lie, then repeat it often enough and the people will believe it.

    What is affirmative action? Policies aimed at making sure historically socio-politically non-dominant groups are given fair access to education or employment. Quotas are NOT part of affirmative action unless court ordered, and then only when the court has concluded that the party doing the discriminating are not giving historically socio-politically non-dominant groups fair access to education or employment.

    Quotas are only used when the law is being repeatedly broken by an employer or school district, so John McCain wants to help the law-breakers? He doesn't show much morality by doing that, does he?

    And I thought most people think the President needs to show good moral character . McCain FAILS that test!

    July 27, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  8. James in Kamiah

    Did John Mccain flip flop on Affirmative action? Ya, so what else is new?

    The real issue here isn't affirmative action and John McCain, but the fact that, for all it's posturing and taking credit for advancements and progress among minority communitties, the republican party leadership hasn't done a thing to increase funding to many minority area schools. THAT is what both parties should concentrate on. By talking up Affirmative Action, they're just emphasizing how ineefective it is to paint Affirmative action as a means to force change on people, who really aren't interested in changing.

    If we feel we need Affirmative Action this long after it was instituted, then it clearly hasn't worked; so, flip-flop or not, Affirmative action has just become another means by which minority numbers can be confined to token levels in the workplace.

    July 27, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Opponents of affirmative action policies argue that they are based on collectivism and merely another equal form of discrimination because they can result in qualified applicants being denied entry to higher education or employment because they belong to a particular social group (usually the historically socio-politically dominant group; typically majority races and men, regardless of social standing or financial need.) They also argue that preferential treatment should be based upon current social and economical standing, not that of one's ancestors. Some opponents say affirmative action devalues the accomplishments of people who are chosen because of the social group they belong to rather than their qualifications.

    I agree with John McCain on this. Stop the racial bias and just give people the jobs because they are qualified, not because of their skin color. Make people actually work at bettering themselves in order to get better jobs. Anyone that wants anything handed to them without doing the work to deserve it, should be ashamed.

    July 27, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  10. Rob indetroit

    I am tired of neo con's asking what's wrong with Obama when he starts slipping in the polls after coming off a great week for him and a bad week for mcbush. there's nothing wrong with Obama, more like something wrong with alot of people. I mean if Barack Obama had made one tenth of the mistakes John Mcbush had made they would be demanding Barack Obama step down and go home.

    July 27, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  11. Justin, Ohio

    Opponents of affirmative action policies argue that they are based on collectivism and merely another equal form of discrimination because they can result in qualified applicants being denied entry to higher education or employment because they belong to a particular social group (usually the historically socio-politically dominant group; typically majority races and men, regardless of social standing or financial need.) They also argue that preferential treatment should be based upon current social and economical standing, not that of one's ancestors. Some opponents say affirmative action devalues the accomplishments of people who are chosen because of the social group they belong to rather than their qualifications.

    I agree with John McCain on this. Stop the racial bias and just give people the jobs because they are qualified, not because of their skin color. Make people actually work at bettering themselves in order to get better jobs. Anyone that wants anything handed to them without doing the work to deserve it, should be ashamed.

    July 27, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  12. Willow, from Iowa

    I don't think Sen. McCain knows what his beliefs are. Because he forgets what he said yesterday.

    July 27, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  13. Jason

    I would love to know the historical moment in which a politician changing his mind after becoming more informed about issues became "flip-flopping." McCain has often admitted to not being completely informed about a certain issue, rather than making some rash decision. People expect our politicians to make informed and educated decisions, yet crucify them when they observe further facts or statistics leading to a change in view.

    Everyone needs to wake up and realize that important choices may not be as simple as the media portrays. Do research. Come up with your own conclusions and then see which politician suits you.

    July 27, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  14. D in Phoenix

    How is this a flip? This guy opposed the MLK national holiday, womens' rights regarding reproduction (no to birth control, no to abortion), health insurance for poor people (though he will enjoy government-sponsored coverage from cradle to grave) and increases to the minimum wage.

    Vitriol and Geritol – McCain '08

    July 27, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  15. Indepemdent_me

    Who benefit most from Affirmative Action?
    Blacks...right?
    WRONG!!!

    It may surprise you to know that WHITE WOMEN are the greater beneficiaries of AA.

    Because of AA they have risen higher in the workforce than Black males, Black, Hispanic, Asian and other women of color. They earn more than Black Males, Black women, Hispanics and other women of color.

    Since all women are lumped with minorities (hence the terminology "woman and minorities") WHITE women are chose above other minorities (including other women who are minorities) and benefit most from the program. White women will be hurt most when it is dismantled.

    What a shock THAT would be!!!

    July 27, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  16. ONE ?

    Senator McCain you remember the SURGE ......You remember the name Sentor Obama Ok !.....Why can't you remember flip flop when comes to you ......I rest my case!!!

    July 27, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  17. Let People be People

    I understand that people can make mistakes, my problem is that whenever Obama makes the smallest of errors he's labeled as unexperienced. Recently McCain has been making mistakes, misstatements and the like, yet it's barely reported on. They say the media loves Obama, that's the biggest farce I've ever heard of. It's Ok for McCain to go abroad and visit foreigh heads of state, but when Obama does it, it's spun the other way. Will a biracial man ever be treated fairly by the so-call republican religious right? Of course not, cause yall aint really religious are you? The blind leading the blind......you know the rest.

    July 27, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  18. Bill, Alabama

    John McCain has "flipped" so many times that he is a "flop".

    July 27, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  19. nola

    Is this who we want to lead this country back on the path economic stability? He cannot remember what his position on anything from one hour to the next hour.

    Please Hillary supporter think about this man. Every right that we women have achieved over the past 40+ years will be wiped aways under McCain. You might not like Obama but, he will put women back into the 1950.

    July 27, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  20. Mike from Westchester

    This new stance against Afirmative Action is more consistant with his past active opposition of the Martin Luther King holiday and equal rights and pay for women.

    As far as his ability to keep his positions straight, just search "McCain Viagra interview" on youtube.

    McCain is wrong for our future. Obama '08

    July 27, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  21. James from bk/LI

    this guy mccrazy is all over the place on every issue. He claimed that Obama would rather lose the war to win the election but he is willing to lie to us to make us believe is better than he brother bush. this guy as a candidate is reacting to anything Obama does. that is not a presidential traits to me. he is crying for attention, he keeps on saying that the surge has worked while afghanistan is shaping up to me more deadly than iraq and we the american tax payers have to fund this war again. mccrazy has 8 homes and he is one of the richest man in congress, he has no clue what the average american goes through. i don't want another bush and if the ppl choose to vote him in the white house, brothers and sister, mom and dad tighten up your belt because mcwar is going to try to rough up NORTH Korea, impose his so call judgement on Iran, turn iraq to the 51 state b4 Puerto Rico and he'll probably tell RUSSIA stand down or else and last but not least, he'll go to Vietnam to get even with those that kept him in prison for 5 yrs, and of course he'll leave cindy for jessica simpson just like he did to Carolin his first wife.

    July 27, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  22. Wisconsin

    ...

    Wasn't McCain all mad and saying Obama was flip-floping?

    McCain is a lier and a scumbag who can't stand up to his own demands.

    McCain will find some way to talk about Obama instead of addressing this.

    July 27, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  23. Ronnie

    Truth be known Obama has half-truths in most of his speeches. He and Mc Cain are both poor choices that we the sheeple have. I support neither one. The media are the culprits in their over favouritism of Obama. The country will soon break apart when either one is elected. So what does it matter anyway?

    July 27, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  24. Mike

    The old tried and true GOP stalwart, when all else fails come out against minorities. Jessie Helms perfected it and I've always known that it was in McCain too. From the moment that he came out against the MLK holiday while Meachum the racist was governor. McCain should get a nice bump in the polls from this.

    July 27, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  25. no obama, please

    Obama accuses McCain of vascillating? This is the greatest joke of all. Obama has, in a miracle of reverse evolution, became an invertebrate, along the lines of a jellyfish that can contort to any necessary shape. Obama says what the crowd wants to hear, changes his colors daily and pretends that he is already the President. A thrashing of this fool in November will be the best possible outcome for the country.

    July 27, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
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