With Republicans already bashing Barack Obama today over this ties to former fund-raiser Tony Rezko, an independent group with ties to John McCain is launching ads linking Obama to 1960s radical William Ayers.
The Associated Press reports that the American Issues Project is spending $2.8 million to air an ad, expected to begin airing today in Michigan and Friday in Ohio, that focuses on Ayers, whose Weatherman organization took credit for a series of bombings, including nonfatal explosions at the Pentagon and US Capitol 40 years ago.
One of the group's board members, Ed Failor Jr., was a paid consultant for McCain's campaign in Iowa last year. The campaign paid his firm $50,000 until July 2007. American Issues Project spokesman Christian Pinkston said Failor has no connection to the McCain campaign now.
Ayers, now a university professor, lives in the same neighborhood in Chicago as Obama and served with him on the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a charity group.
"Barack Obama is friends with Ayers, defending him as, quote, 'Respectable' and 'Mainstream,' " the ad states, according to the AP report. "Obama's political career was launched in Ayers' home. And the two served together on a left-wing board. Why would Barack Obama be friends with someone who bombed the Capitol and is proud of it? Do you know enough to elect Barack Obama?"
Obama has distanced himself from Ayers. Today, campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor blasted McCain over the ad, calling it another sign of desperation.
"The fact that John McCain dispatched his paid consultant to launch this despicable ad from a so-called ‘independent’ committee shows how desperate he is to change the subject from his shocking disconnect with the economic struggles of the American people. He knows that Barack Obama has denounced the detestable crimes that Bill Ayers committed forty years ago. Instead of invoking Paris, Britney and obscure sixties radicals, Senator McCain should take the day off at one of his seven homes to consider whether his support for outsourcing, tax breaks for companies who ship jobs overseas and continued spending of ten billion a month in Iraq is really putting ‘country first.’ To us, it sounds like just more of the same,” Vietor said in a statement.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.