On the Issues: Obama vs. McCain

On the Issues: Obama vs. McCain




Civil Rights

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Voted against recognition of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a holiday in Arizona in 1983. (But during a speech in Memphis in April, he expressed his full support for the holiday admitting, “I was wrong.”)

Believes same-sex marriage is an issue for states to decide, not the federal government

Opposes landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion

Wants to pass the Fair Pay Act to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work and the Employment Nondiscrimination Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation
Defense/National Security
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Would set up “new civil military agency” patterned after the Office of Strategic Services in WWII. Supported FISA Act, an illegal warrantless wiretap program by the Bush administration Would introduce integrated Mobile Development Teams that bring together personnel from State Department, Pentagon, and United States Agency for International Development

Wants to create a Shared Security Program to forge an international intelligence and law enforcement infrastructure to take down terrorist networks


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Co-sponsored the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. The Act prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, public service, and public accommodations. Wants to update the law to clearly define “disability.”

Supported the ADA Amendment Act of 2008 that passed through the House.

Supports Sen. Thomas Harkin’s (D-IA) Americans with Disabilities Restoration Act that would overturn a Supreme Court decision that narrowly defines “disability” as it was written in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Also wants to enact a four-prong plan including: educational opportunities for people with disabilities; end to discrimination and promotion of equal opportunity; increase employment rate; support of independent, community-based living by increasing funding to the EEOC and Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

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Will support increased funding for the Bush Administrations No Child Left Behind plan.

Wants a merit system for teachers based on student performance, and supports vouchers for students to attend charter schools. He would also increase focus on students who perform poorly on standardized tests.

Proposes the Zero to Five Plan to focus on early childcare and education, as well as quadruple Early Head Start funding.

Plans a modification of current performance assessment in No Child Left Behind. Instead of a benchmark evaluation, schools would follow a growth model” where progress is tracked and rewarded year over year.


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Supports off-shore drilling of American oil reserves to lessen dependency on foreign oil. During an Aug. 4 South Dakota speech, McCain adamantly proclaimed, “We need to drill here, and we need to drill now.” Wants to