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GOP cites Ayers in calls

October 17, 2008|From the Associated Press

CARSON CITY, NEV. — Automated telephone calls from Republican John McCain's presidential campaign continue the effort to link Democratic nominee Barack Obama with onetime Weather Underground leader William Ayers.

The robocalls began in Nevada, Wisconsin and other states Thursday, the day after the final presidential debate, saying Obama "has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge's home and killed Americans."

Ayers co-founded the Weatherman in 1969, an anti-Vietnam War group that became the Weather Underground. It claimed responsibility for several nonfatal bombings of government buildings, but not a judge's home.

Obama has condemned Ayers' radical activities, carried out when Obama was 8. There is no evidence that they were ever close friends or that Ayers advised Obama on policy.

McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said the robocalls were warranted because the relationship "raises serious questions about Barack Obama's judgment and also his candor with the American people."

Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said: "Sen. McCain calls Ayers an old, washed-up terrorist. If that's the case, why is he spending all this money on these nasty, dirty robocalls?"

Ayers surrendered in 1980. Charges against him later were dropped because of governmental misconduct. Today he is a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and lives in Obama's neighborhood.

In 1995, Ayers held a meet-the-candidate session as Obama prepared to run for the state Senate. They also served on the boards of two charitable groups. Chicago named Ayers its Citizen of the Year in 1997 for work on one of those boards.

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