October 6th, 2008
02:00 PM ET
14 years ago

McCain camp dismisses claim Obama didn’t know Ayers’ past

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/06/art.obama.pa.gi.jpg caption="McCain camp dismisses claim that Obama didn't know Ayers' past."]
(CNN) - John McCain’s campaign is dismissing statements by senior aides to Barack Obama that the Illinois senator had been unaware of former Weather Underground member William Ayers’ past when the two men met more than a decade ago.

“Does Barack Obama truly expect the American people to believe that he had no idea about his friend’s past as the infamous founder of the domestic terror group ‘The Weather Underground’ or is he just lying?” McCain-Palin spokesman Tucker Bounds said in a statement. “If Obama really was unaware of Ayers' radical past, learning the truth doesn't seem to have had any effect on their friendship, since the senator later endorsed a book by Ayers, and served on the same charitable board and exchanged e-mails and calls for several more years.”

Obama senior strategist David Axelrod had made that claim in an interview with CNN's Jim Acosta that aired Monday. “I mean… when he went, he certainly, he didn’t know the history,” said Axelrod – the first time a top campaign aide had said Obama did not know about Ayers’ past when they met.

The remark came after days of attacks from Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin over Obama’s relationship with the controversial Ayers. On Monday, Palin described Ayers as one of Obama’s “earliest supporters” and Obama as “someone who sees America as ‘imperfect enough’ to work with a former domestic terrorist who targeted his own country.”

When CNN American Morning’s John Roberts asked Obama senior advisor Robert Gibbs Monday whether Axelrod’s statement was accurate, the campaign aide responded: "Look, if that's what David said, that is true. Look, again, this is a relationship... that Barack Obama has condemned the actions of Bill Ayers. This is somebody that The New York Times said Barack Obama's not close to - and again, John, this is a way of distracting the American people from what's important."

The Ayers charges are part of a new effort by the McCain campaign to raise doubts about Obama’s character and to portray him as an unknown risk. “Voters are left wondering who Obama is and what he stands for," the campaign said in a statement.

soundoff (115 Responses)
  1. Chris from NY

    For people who preach Christianity, hate is the only thing the Republicans portray. They hate blacks, other minorities, the poor and the needy. What a world full of haters.

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  2. YB

    Mc Cain claims he didn't know about MLK, which is why he voted against his holiday. How old was he then? McCain has such a double standard. Obama was 8 when Ayers acted out and has been clean ever since...why should we hold that against Obama.

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  3. Marie

    well – I am around Obama's age, well educated and did not know about the weathermen or Bill Ayers ... I guess we both were around 8, sorry we weren't paying attention – we were busy in 2nd grade.....

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  4. Victor of MI

    Pathetic and desperate fear-mongering from a dishonorable man with no more choices. Instead of ceding honorable, he takes the ultimate low-blow that defines his candidacy and party.

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  5. Lynnette

    The Dow just lost another 700 points today and this is what McCain is talking about. Disgusting and outrageous!

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  6. As the 'Paign Turns

    "Sooner or later, people are going to figure out if all you run is negative attack ads you don't have much of a vision for the future or you're not ready to articulate it." – John McCain, 2000

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  7. NancyinMichigan

    Economy, economy, economy.

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  8. CB2

    Oh, so now the McCain campaign are mind readers as well. America the world is watching us!!! And I don't believe the like what they see in Senator McCain's campaign. He can't discuss the current economic situation so he has to paint Obama as being scary. Really, that's all you got.

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |

    Obama is covering up! He can't talk about his past because it ruins his rock star image and frankly in his case the TRUTH just hurst too much!


    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  10. Veteran in Kansas

    As we can see McCain does background checks on everyone he has dealings with, Charles Keating, Sara Palin, so why should not everyone be held to the same low McCain standard.

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  11. Micah

    what about McCain's proud friendship with ex- 60's radical David Ifshin? Seriously, are Americans this naive? Didnt Bill Clinton pardon Ayers anyway?

    October 6, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  12. Vegas Barbie for Obama

    Obama'll take the high road, McCain'll take the low road and Senator Obama will be in the White House before him!!
    OBAMA/BIDEN '08 & '12 YES WE CAN!!!!

    October 6, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  13. Jerome

    Stick to the subject McCain, the economy... We ae more comfortable with Obama then we are with you running the country. This ayers issue all a ploy to change the subject and we are not falling for it this time.

    October 6, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  14. Sandy

    Blah, Blah, Blah. Didn't Sen Clinton bring this up to no avail in the primaries? This is not NEW, it is oldy, moldy information. Is that the best the McCain camp can do? Why can't they talk about what they are gonna do about the economy, the war, etc....mmmmm, sounds too much like what Bush has been doing!

    October 6, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  15. Beth

    We have so many more important things to say here, so much to fix, and so much on the line. Instead of tearing things apart – why not , McCain say what you will do to make things better. You are just a grumpy man right now faced with losing your last chance at what you wanted, and selfishly, don't care what you do in the process of failing. The entire world is watching us make a joke out of the Democracy that we praise throughout countries, and make justification for wars – how sad McCain that you of all people, should come to this sad sad conclusion.

    October 6, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  16. Nurse Ratchet

    Translation: McCain is desperate and has no real plan for anything. If he did have a plan, certainly we would have heard about it by now right?

    October 6, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  17. Greed is not good

    Hillary already tried this and it didn't work. Not the same as McCain accepting gifts under the table from Charles Keating.

    October 6, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. lance

    I have yet to hear specifics on what McCain is going to do to address the issues we are concerned with. I do not want someone to be my President that feels that he has to tear down the opponent to win. I want someone who wants to win on their own merits.

    October 6, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  19. Steve, Madison WI

    I have an idea – let's tally up all the lies from both candidates about the other & the one that has told the most lies loses the election and agrees that their party will never ever hold office again – any takers on the Republican side – McCain are you out there, hello...............oh, I see.

    October 6, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  20. jeff

    Obama had no idea of William Ayers past? Please. Now I am starting to get suspicious.

    October 6, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  21. A-Man

    FELLOW REPUBLICANS, it is time for us to send a clear message. Our party needs new people, time to get rid of the likes of Carl Rove and McCain and stomp out any hope the Palin's of the world have in being part of our future. I have always voted Republican and have always been a great fan of John McCain. But this election has not been John McCain it has been Carl Rove and the behind the scene republicans of Bush. And Palin is making a joke out of our party. It is time to vote Democratic, time to send these people who have hurt our party packing, time to send a clear message. Lets get rid of this crew, over haul ourselves and be back to send this party and country in the right direction. God only help us if McCaina nd Palin won, next election we would not be a factor at any level of gov't. I still respect McCain although he is not in control. I have and never will respect Palin, she is the worse politician there ever has been. Oil rich Alaska is the only place she could have a future, she is ignorant, not near intelligent enough to represent our party, and her name is already slime.

    October 6, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  22. Annie, Atlanta

    It's gotten to the point where I don't really care what John McCain thinks, anymore. It's obvious that he will stop at nothing to win. It's obvious he's all about him. And after reading the cover story of Rolling Stone magazine, now I understand.

    October 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  23. Barry

    So people are losing their homes all across this nation and McCain thinks the top story of the day is something that happened over 40 years ago? Way to stay on top of things old man!

    October 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  24. Cheri

    The dow is down over 700 points and this is all John McCain and Sarah palin can talk about? This is purely disgusting!!!!!!!

    October 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  25. Bruce

    No there is not any evidence to support McCain

    October 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
1 2 3 4 5