July 28th, 2008
06:23 AM ET
13 years ago

Did McCain 'flip' on affirmative action measure?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/24/art.mccainpolls.ap.jpg caption="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. Independent-woman-4-Obama

    TO "EDEX. FLORIDA VOTER": Bush's approval rating is a mere 21%. Lower than even Nixon's!

    July 28, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  2. truth

    I think people don't realize that quotas keep company out of trouble.

    people are still going to sue based on racism, sexism, ageism, or whatever. quota help a company say that they practice equal oppurnity employment even if that not true.
    anyone that say it not need doesn't understand the ramification of that.
    a company would have to prove that they are practicing racism, sexim, or agism. if they can't then...one person law suit could take out a whole company.

    July 28, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  3. BWM

    Sydney Potier who starred in the heat of the night was considered arrogant. Any person of color with half a brain is always branned as arrogant or uppity, so I'm not surprised that someone would refer to Obama as arrogant.

    July 28, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  4. AlphaDog

    John McCain didn't love America until he was an adult and his plane was shot down.

    July 28, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  5. Becky

    Memory loss?

    July 28, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  6. Obama 08: mature, white woman

    Why was McCain afraid to face reporters at the Unity Conference? Being a straight shooter you would have thought he would welcome all questions rather than those at his town hall meetings where the audiene is exclusively his supporters.

    July 28, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  7. Kiran


    July 28, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  8. LIZ

    He is feeling the pressure....I think all of the candidates are feeling the cost of campaigning this long....... should be interesting to see what happens next.
    I give both candidates credit for what they are doing.....We (americans) need to stand by one another....not against each other.....noth candidates are trying to make this a better place to live, work, and dream.......

    but..enough of that!!

    July 28, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |

    Bush Sr. apposed Civil Rights in the 60's, but voted for it when he became a US Senator. Let's just hope McSurge uses he "good" judgement on this one.

    July 28, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  10. The Truth

    McCain is a joke. I question the intelligence of anyone who votes for this guy.

    July 28, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  11. Reality Check Richmond Virginia

    Typical White Person........I hope you are not that. It would be an embarresment to the rest of us. It also appears that you were not taught any basic American history in thay state public school system that was ranked 49th.

    July 28, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  12. Henry n New York

    Those that ridicule the Obama campaign I wonder if you have really been following the campaign. Have you listened to McCain speeches (I know its hard and boring but if he is your choice have you paid attention); have you listened to Obama's as well – during every speech he talks about another of his platforms. For at least a year Obama has spoken about what needs to be done regarding Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Have you not noticed that the Bush administration has followed ever single suggestion that Obama has laid out as the correct path to take? Have you not noticed that ever suggestion carried out by Bush has had positive results. Unlike the unresponsive results Bush was previously getting. How could any of you really believe that McCain has a better command of foriegn policy when the FACTS prove otherwise. With regards to McCain he hasn't had one original, new idea or change of policy that is opposite of what the Bush Administration has done. All failed policies.

    July 28, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  13. Linda31

    At this point, I have lost ALL respect for this man.

    July 28, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
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