McCain of Mystery

John McCain may be a man of mystery to many women considered swing voters, a new poll by Planned Parenthood reveals.

If you've read or heard about the exchange between John McCain and a reporter last year when McCain was asked whether he believed that contraceptives helped stop the spread of HIV and whether or not they should be publicly funded, you may be in the minority as a female living in a swing state:

Reporter: "Should U.S. taxpayer money go to places like Africa to fund contraception to prevent AIDS?"

Mr. McCain: "I haven't thought about it. Before I give you an answer, let me think about. Let me think about it a little bit because I never got a question about it before. I don't know if I would use taxpayers' money for it."

Q: "What about grants for sex education in the United States? Should they include instructions about using contraceptives? Or should it be Bush's policy, which is just abstinence?"

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) "Ahhh. I think I support the president's policy."

Q: "So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?"

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) "You've stumped me."

Q: "I mean, I think you'd probably agree it probably does help stop it?"

Mr. McCain: (Laughs) "Are we on the Straight Talk express? I'm not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I'm sure I've taken a position on it on the past. I have to find out what my position was. Brian, would you find out what my position is on contraception-I'm sure I'm opposed to government spending on it, I'm sure I support the president's policies on it."

Despite – or maybe because of McCain's refusal to stake out strong ground in the public reproductive health arena – a new Planned Parenthood poll conducted among 1,205 women in 16 likely battleground states (including Iowa, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Arizona and New Mexico) found that John McCain's reproductive rights position is either misunderstood or unknown to a majority of these women.

In fact, nearly one-half (49%) of women who say they are supporting McCain express pro-choice positions. Almost all of those women support upholding Roe v. Wade.

In addition, half of all women surveyed in these battleground states – and fully half of all female, pro-choice McCain supporters – are not informed enough about John McCain's views on abortion to be able to describe what his positions actually are. Even more shocking: almost one-quarter (23%) of these pro-choice McCain supporters believe mistakenly that he is, according to the poll report, "in step with their own views." In other words, they believe that John McCain is pro-choice.

Finally, when these voters are informed of where McCain actually stands in regards to abstinence-only programs, his record of voting against requiring health care plans to cover birth control and in opposition to preventive measures that would reduce unintended pregnancy, almost 40% of these current pro-choice McCain voters say they would likely revoke their support in favor of Obama (38%) or Clinton (40%).

In October of last year, RH Reality Check sent out a reproductive health questionnaire to all of the then presidential candidates. John McCain did not answer the questionnaire but we did cull together this information on his reproductive health and rights record and positions.

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  • invalid-0


    If you think Barack Obama with little or no experience would be better than Hillary Clinton with 35 years experience.

    You Might Be An Idiot!

    If you think that Obama with no experience can fix an economy on the verge of collapse better than Hillary Clinton. Whose ;-) husband (Bill Clinton) led the greatest economic expansion, and prosperity in American history.

    You Might Be An Idiot!

    If you think that Obama with no experience fighting for universal health care can get it for you better than Hillary Clinton. Who anticipated this current health care crisis back in 1993, and fought a pitched battle against overwhelming odds to get universal health care for all the American people.

    You Might Be An Idiot!

    If you think that Obama with no experience can manage, and get us out of two wars better than Hillary Clinton. Whose ;-) husband (Bill Clinton) went to war only when he was convinced that he absolutely had to. Then completed the mission in record time against a nuclear power. AND DID NOT LOSE THE LIFE OF A SINGLE AMERICAN SOLDIER. NOT ONE!

    You Might Be An Idiot!

    If you think that Obama with no experience saving the environment is better than Hillary Clinton. Whose ;-) husband (Bill Clinton) left office with the greatest amount of environmental cleanup, and protections in American history.

    You Might Be An Idiot!

    If you think that Obama with little or no education experience is better than Hillary Clinton. Whose ;-) husband (Bill Clinton) made higher education affordable for every American. And created higher job demand and starting salary’s than they had ever been before or since.

    You Might Be An Idiot!

    If you think that Obama with no experience will be better than Hillary Clinton who spent 8 years at the right hand of President Bill Clinton. Who is already on record as one of the greatest Presidents in American history.

    You Might Be An Idiot!

    If you think that you can change the way Washington works with pretty speeches from Obama, rather than with the experience, and political expertise of two master politicians ON YOUR SIDE like Hillary and Bill Clinton..

    You Might Be An Idiot!

    If you think all those Republicans voting for Obama in the Democratic primaries, and caucuses are doing so because they think he is a stronger Democratic candidate than Hillary Clinton. :-)

    Best regards


    p.s. You Might Be An Idiot!

    If you don’t know that the huge amounts of money funding the Obama campaign to try and defeat Hillary Clinton is coming in from the insurance, and medical industry, that has been ripping you off, and killing you and your children. And denying you, and your loved ones the life saving medical care you needed. All just so they can make more huge immoral profits for them-selves off of your suffering…

    You see, back in 1993 Hillary Clinton had the audacity, and nerve to try and get quality, affordable universal health care for everyone to prevent the suffering and needless deaths of hundreds of thousands of you each year. Naughty Girl. :-)

    Approx. 100,000 of you die each year from medical accidents from a rush to profit by the insurance, and medical industry. Another 120,000 of you die each year from treatable illness that people in other developed countries don’t die from. And I could go on, and on…

  • invalid-0

    McCain would be over 80 years old after his second term.

  • invalid-0

    calling millions of voters idiots certainly is persuasive.

  • invalid-0

    Thank you, Aimee, we really do need more information on Senator McCain’s views on reproductive health, rights, and access to care and education. It might be especially difficult, since from your article it’s clear that the Senator isn’t really sure what they are.

    On a more useful point of information, Ward Cates, the distinguished researcher on Dual-protection (STI/unintended pregnancy prevention) makes an interesting point in the current issue of POZ. The concept is that one of the best ways to prevent pediatric Aids may be to insure that HIV-positive women avoid unintended pregnancy.


  • invalid-0

    Has it ever occured to you that you are endorsing someone based on what her husband did and not what she has done? Ok she lived at the BIG HOUSE but it was not her run as president. I think the world of Hillary but I do believe that she is as qualified as Obama. They have very similar views. She may have years on him but what about her voting pattern? Its virtually the same. Thats what matters not how old or young in politics they are. The bottom line is they are both Dem’s and they are both promising a future that will bring us out of this 8 yr reign of madness! So stop being so angry and try to educate people on why to choose one or the other. That is why I read this page in the first place.

  • invalid-0

    McCain is pro-life and Christians should vote for him. He is not going to sell Israel down the river and he will not allow babies to be butchered in killing centers that are called euphemistically abortion clinics.

  • invalid-0

    Eight years ago, John McCain said Roe v Wade shouldn’t be overturned. Now he is tripping over his own feet to hold up his “pro life” record and court evangelical voters. He doesn’t know if condoms help to prevent the spread of AIDS. He also says he would continue Bush’s [failed] abstinence only program. To judge just by his record of voting against not only abortion,but also birth control, & family planning, John McCain is an flip-flopping extremist – the Anti-Choiceist! [snark]

  • invalid-0

    Tell me, is God able to prevent the half of all pregnancies that spontaneously abort naturally(this is fact)? If I am having unprotected sex with my wife but decide at the very last minute to “pull out”, have I killed that life that was just seconds from coming into being? You’ve had decades to make your case to the public and nothing has changed.

    If you spent half the effort on trying to avoid unwanted preganancied you’d prevent way more abortions than trying to make illegal something that a solid majority does not want to make illegal.

    For that matter, by definition if 60% of people agree abortion should be legal, then it is not murder.

    McCain … who knows what he believes. I can’t figure it out. He’s had so many positions I can’t figure out what he believes today, and if I knew I would just expect him to change it tomorrow or when in office.