November 14th, 2008
12:08 PM ET
6 years ago

Ayers speaks out

Ayers said Friday that Republicans’ attempt to tie Obama to him is a ‘dishonest narrative.’
Ayers said Friday that Republicans’ attempt to tie Obama to him is a ‘dishonest narrative.’

(CNN) – With the election over, 1960s radical William Ayers emerged Friday for an interview to promote an updated version of his memoir, saying that the Republicans’ attempt to tie him to President-elect Barack Obama was a “dishonest narrative” with the intent of “demonizing” Ayers.

Ayers was interviewed on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America,’ telling anchor Chris Cuomo that he doesn't know Obama any better than “thousands of other Chicagoans” and that “a secret link” between the two men is a “myth.”

Cuomo asked Ayers about describing his relationship with Obama as 'family friends' in the afterward of his book, a relationship he defined Friday as "professional."

“I’m talking there about that fact that I became an issue unwittingly and unwillingly in the campaign and I decided that I didn’t want to answer any of it at that moment because it was such a profoundly dishonest narrative," said Ayers. "I’m describing there how the blogosphere characterized the relationship. I would say, really, that we knew each other in a professional way, again, on the same level as, say, thousands of other people.”

The anti-Vietnam War activist who bombed the Pentagon, Capitol and New York City police headquarters became a household name in the waning weeks of the campaign with Sarah Palin accusing Obama of “palling around with terrorists” and John McCain arguing that the Illinois senator should be pressed further on his relationship with the “unrepentant terrorist.”

“I have roundly condemned those acts,” Obama, who was eight years old at the time of the attacks, responded in his final debate with McCain. “Mr. Ayers is not involved in my campaign, he has never been involved in this campaign and he will not advise me in the White House.”

During the campaign, Republicans zeroed in on Ayers’ 2001 quote, “I don’t regret setting bombs; I feel we didn’t do enough,” as well of accusing Obama of launching his political career in Ayers’ living room.

"We had him in our home and I think he was probably in 20 homes that day," said Ayers, also refusing to back down from his previous comments.

“I don’t think we did enough,” he said, “just as today I don’t think we’ve done enough to stop these wars and I think we must all recognize the injustice of it and do more.”

Since the coffee, Ayers and Obama served on the boards of the Woods Fund of Chicago and the Chicago Annenberg Challenge together. Ayers, now a professor at the University of Chicago, says the relationship was never more than civic-minded and professional.

“This idea that we need to know more, like there’s a dark hidden secret, a secret link, is just a myth," said Ayers. "And it’s a myth thrown up by people who kind of wanted to exploit the politics of fear and I think it’s a great credit to the American people that those politics were rejected.”

Wednesday, Palin told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that it’s “an association that still bothers me.”

“I still am concerned about that association with Bill Ayers,” said Palin. “And if anybody still wants to talk about it, I will, because this is an unrepentant domestic terrorist who had campaigned to blow up, to destroy our Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol.”

“I don’t buy the idea that guilt by association should be any part of our politics,” Ayers replied Friday. “And the interesting thing is as much as this was created as an issue in the campaign it appears for most people it was, it had no traction, it had no meaning.”

“I still am concerned about that association with Bill Ayers,” said Palin. “And if anybody still wants to talk about it, I will, because this is an unrepentant domestic terrorist who had campaigned to blow up, to destroy our Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol.”

“I don’t buy the idea that guilt by association should be any part of our politics,” Ayers replied Friday. “And the interesting thing is as much as this was created as an issue in the campaign it appears for most people it was, it had no traction, it had no meaning.”

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