In a Feb. 9 "Hardball" interview with Chris Matthews, McCain compared his evolution to that of one of his political heroes, former Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater. "I believe that Barry Goldwater, to start with, regretted his vote on the 1964 Civil Rights Act," McCain said. "I think that Barry grew, like all of us grow and evolve. In 1983, when I was brand-new in the Congress, I voted against the recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King. That was a mistake, OK? And later I had the chance to ... help fight for ... the recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King as a holiday in my state."
Just think about the fact that he voted against the holiday to begin with. What does that tell you about him and his views of race in America? Why did it matter to him that he was brand spanking new to Congress when he denied MLK his rightful day of celebration? He brings up Goldwater in 64 as some sort of wingnut justification. Well, he had almost twenty years to think about it by then and he still voted against MLK day. I'm glad Sam Stein caught this too and wrote a good piece on it.
In 1983, McCain voted against passing a bill to designate the third Monday of every January as a federal holiday in honor of King. Four years later, then-Arizona Governor Evan Mecham rescinded Martin Luther King Day as a state holiday, saying it had been established through an illegal executive order by his Democratic predecessor.
McCain said he thought Mecham was correct in his decision.
Two years after that, McCain's viewpoint began to change, but only gradually. In 1989, he urged lawmakers to make Martin Luther King Jr. day a state holiday, but said he was "still opposed to another federal holiday."