John McCain spoke to a group of African American students at a historically black college today, answering their questions on everything from Iraq to his prior opposition to a Martin Luther King holiday.
At Arkansas Baptist College, McCain and former GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee met with a group of young men who work in a national mentoring program called "Our Kids" (OK). One student asked McCain what he thought the most pressing issues were in the African American community.
"I think it is the struggle for equal opportunities. We have come a long way since Selma and I am proud of progress but we have a long way to go," McCain said. The second thing McCain mentioned was education, claiming people need to the tools to go as far as their ambition will take them. "The third thing is encouragement of family. What you are doing is helping a lot of families who don't have two parents in the household."
Another student stepped up and asked McCain about the MLK holiday proposal he opposed in the 80s.
"Senator McCain, I realized you voted against the MLK holiday. Can you explain that?" the student asked.
"I voted against grounds that were not sound but a short time after that I changed my view because I was better informed," McCain responded.
"You seem to be a meek person, why do you feel we should not leave Iraq?" another student asked. McCain explained that he wanted troops to come too but with honor.
Huckabee said he was impressed that McCain embarked on his "It's Time for Action" tour because he felt McCain brought attention to those who need it, when many in his party say he should be raising money.
"America cannot not move forward alone," he said. "It's important to realize just how deep some wounds are…Senator McCain gets it."