Monday, July 28, 2008

Obama and McCain Split on Affirmative Action

An Arizona ballot initiative to ban affirmative action is bringing into focus another clear difference between presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama.

The affirmative action ban is sponsored by Ward Connerly, an African American conservative from Sacramento who spearheaded a ban in California and is campaigning for the cause in other states.

McCain supports the initiative, something Obama has characterized as a flip-flop from the senator's earlier position in which he supported affirmative action in some cases. In 1998, McCain opposed state legislation to end affirmative action in Arizona.

Obama reiterated his support for affirmative action at the Unity Convention of minority journalists yesterday.

"I am a strong supporter of affirmative action when properly structured so there it is not a quota, but it is acknowledging and taking into account some of the hardships and difficulties that communities of color may have experienced, continue to experience, and it also speaks to the value of diversity in all walks of American life," he said.

The issue could become an important one especially in the neighboring battleground states of New Mexico and Nevada, where there are large Latino and Native American populations.

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