April 20th, 2008
11:14 AM ET
15 years ago

McCain: Obama's patriotic, but his Ayers ties are 'open to question'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/11/art.mccain.ap.jpg caption="McCain hit Obama on Ayers ties Sunday."]
(CNN) - John McCain waded into the controversy over Barack Obama's ties to Weather Underground founder William Ayers Sunday, telling an interviewer that the Illinois senator’s relationship with the activist was "open to question," and his explanation of their connection “borders on the outrageous.”

The presumptive Republican nominee raised the issue himself during an interview on ABC’s This Week, in response to a question from host George Stephanopoulos about whether he believes Obama is as patriotic as he is.

“I'm sure he's very patriotic. But his relationship with Mr. Ayers is open to question,” said McCain.

“He became friends with him and spent time with him while the guy was unrepentant over his activities as a member of a terrorist organization, the Weathermen,” said the Arizona senator.

“Does he condemn them? Would he condemn someone who that says they're unrepentant and wished that they had bombed more?”

The Obama campaign responded a short time later. “Unable to sell his out-of-touch ideas on the economy and Iraq, John McCain has stooped to the same smear politics and low road that he denounced in 2000," said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton. "The American people can’t afford a third term of President Bush’s failed policies and divisive tactics.”

Hillary Clinton said during Wednesday’s presidential debate that Obama’s meetings with Ayers were one element of a “larger set of concerns” about how Democrats would be able to beat McCain this fall.

Obama has said that he an Ayers were only passing acquaintances, a characterization disputed by the Clinton campaign.

McCain took issue with Obama’s reply to questions about the 60s-era activist at the Philadelphia debate: that he was “also friendly” with GOP Sen. Tom Coburn, “who during his campaign once said that it might be appropriate to apply the death penalty to those who carried out abortions.

“Do I need to apologize for Mr. Coburn's statements?” said Obama. “Because I certainly don't agree with those either.”

On Sunday, McCain said Coburn was “a great humanitarian… in my view, one of greatest spokespersons for the rights of the unborn.”

“To compare [Ayers] with Dr. Coburn, who spends so much of his life bringing babies into this world, that in my view… borders on outrageous,” McCain said.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (182 Responses)
  1. Walt

    Straight Talk Express taking the "high" road? Right. What McCain did with the Keating 5 and the questionable lobbyists is more unpatriotic and un American than anyone else in the campaign.
    Continuing to support the bogus war in Iraq for Halliburton is un American.
    Not advocating affordable health care is un American.
    Being a neo con war monger is un American

    April 20, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  2. George

    Old Man and the Sea- By Hemmingway. our Mccain gradpa should read that novel. running for president is not an old man's job.

    April 20, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  3. NC Engineer

    we would be one stupid Nation to vote that man into Presidency. Just look at what all has transpired during these last 8 years and for us to vote George W. Bush, in another mans body, into office would be craaazy!

    April 20, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  4. sumac61

    Is this all they've got? Pretty feeble. Should line up that 28% base, though.

    April 20, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  5. Jeremy from TX

    I think McCain is mad because Ayers would only drink Scotch and Whiskey; not the beer that McCain's wife's company produced.

    I am sure Obama even had no clue about Ayers' activities back then...same like McCain dind't realize that manipulation and desire of the Iraq was is actually "EXPENSE" not "economical progress"....

    April 20, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  6. ed fl

    What a joke Mccain making comments . I guess his alzhiemers is acting up again. John ,KEATING ,whoring around, Special interests political interests and there female [COMPANIONS]Boozing. Quite an array of quaifcations to be running for President, Remember your no vote for Martin Luther king Holiday. I am sure the afro american community is lining up to vote for you.

    April 20, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  7. Jill

    And Ayers, who did some unsavorable things in his 20s, also has worked effortlessly to bring reform in poor Chicago schools. Ayers never killed anyone, despite Clinton's weak claim. Nonetheless, Obama's ties to Ayers are pretty minor. These tit-for-tat accussations border on the ridiculous.

    April 20, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8