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Week of 8.29.08

Candidate Positions: Race Issues

Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain Where do the candidates stand on affirmative action?

Barack Obama

Barack Obama says he is supportive of affirmative action but does not see it as a solution to racial inequality. He feels improved education and professional opportunities for the poor will increase prospects for minorities and help lift more out of poverty than affirmative action can. Thus he hopes to see affirmative action as "a diminishing tool for us to achieve racial equality."

On "This Week," when George Stephanopoulos recently asked Obama if his daughters should benefit from affirmative action programs, Obama said he believed they should be treated as "folks who are pretty advantaged." He added: "I think that we should take into account white kids who have been disadvantaged and have grown up in poverty and shown themselves to have what it takes to succeed."

John McCain

While John McCain supported Connerly's recent initiative in Arizona to end affirmative action, he opposed similar legislation a decade ago, calling the effort "divisive."

Over the years, McCain has consistently voiced his opposition to hiring quotas based on race. But he has supported affirmative action in limited cases. For example, in 1999 and again in 2003 he introduced legislation to give tax breaks to minority owned broadcast entities in an attempt to increase minority ownership.

McCain says assistance should be given to individuals who need it based on economic, not racial, lines.

Related Links

Chicago Tribune: McCain, Obama surprisingly close on affirmative action

Boston Globe: On affirmative action, Obama intriguing but vague

New York Times: Delicate Obama Path on Class and Race Preferences

Politico: Obama shifts affirmative action rhetoric

USA Today: McCain sides with ban on affirmative action

Wall Street Journal: McCain to Urban League: Affirmative Action 'Is In Eye of Beholder'