Opinion: John McCain regrets now opposing Martin Luther King Jr. holiday

This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

Three of the toughest words in politics: ‘I was wrong.’ And John McCain uttered them again today in Memphis, conceding that he erred in once opposing a national holiday in honor of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

McCain had made a similar concession in South Carolina after his 2000 bid for the Republican presidential nomination, saying that he believed the Confederate flag should be removed from atop the state Capitol but that he didn’t have the guts to say so when it mattered.


Democrat John Edwards also embraced those three words in regretting his 2002 Senate vote authorizing the war in Iraq. That Hillary Clinton hasn’t made a similar remark for her identical vote remains one of the simmering issues in this campaign, though voters’ attention to the war has been overwhelmed by economic concerns.

‘We can be slow as well to give greatness its due, a mistake I made myself long ago when I voted against a federal holiday in memory of Dr. King,’ McCain said today in Memphis. ‘I was wrong and eventually realized that, in time to give full support for a state holiday in Arizona... We can all be a little late sometimes in doing the right thing, and Dr. King understood this about his fellow Americans. But he knew as well that in the long term, confidence in the reasonability and good heart of America is always well placed.’

-- Mark Silva

Mark Silva writes for The Swamp of the Chicago Tribune Washington Bureau.