John McCain's campaign today put up a hard-hitting web ad as it continues to try to tar Barack Obama over his association with William Ayers, who helped start a radical group that bombed government buildings in the early 1970s anti-Vietnam War era.
Following up on a statement issued Wednesday by the son of a judge targeted by the Weather Underground, the web ad repeatedly calls Ayers a "terrorist," describes him as a friend of Obama, and insinuates that Obama is hiding the truth.
"They've worked together for years, but Obama tries to hide it. Why?" the female announcer says.
Beginning each with "We know," the announcer cites portions of the record -- how Obama and Ayers served on two nonprofit boards together during the mid-1990s in Chicago, how Ayers hosted an event in his home where the local state senator introduced Obama as her handpicked successor, how the Weather Underground bombed the US Capitol and Pentagon, and how Ayers once said, "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough."
"Obama's friendship with terrorist Ayers isn't the issue," the narrator continues. "The issue is Barack Obama's judgment and candor. When Obama just says, 'This is a guy who lives in the neighborhood,' Americans say, 'Where's the truth, Barack?'
"Barack Obama, too risky for America," the announcer concludes.
The ad, of course, does not include Obama's explanation that by the time he met Ayers, he was a respected education reformer in Chicago and that he hasn't communicated with him since entering the US Senate in January 2005.
UPDATE: Obama told a Philadelphia radio host today, "Ultimately, I ended up learning about the fact that he had engaged in this reprehensible act 40 years ago, but I was eight years old at the time and I assumed that he had been rehabilitated."
"This guy is not part of my inner circle, he doesn't advise my campaign, he's not going to advise me as president," Obama added, and criticized McCain for focusing on Ayers when the economy is in turmoil, calling the issue a "red herring."
"The fact that Senator McCain wants to make this the centerpiece of his campaign is pretty remarkable," he said. "We are going through an enormous challenge right now."
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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.