October 16th, 2008
07:02 PM ET
14 years ago

Republicans launch wave of calls attacking Obama

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republicans launched an enormous wave of phone calls Thursday blasting Barack Obama for "having worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers," party sources said.

The calls are part of a $70 million last Republican push to get out the vote for John McCain on November 4, using calls, mailings and door-knocking in battleground states.

"Hundreds of thousands" of calls are being made in at least half a dozen hard-fought states including Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, the sources said.

Some are recorded "robocalls," while others are live to comply with relevant state laws. The calls are being paid for jointly by the Republican party and the McCain campaign, according to a script provided by the Republican party.

The "robocalls" criticize Obama national security, his opposition to an Illinois measure that called for doctors to provide medical care to babies who survive botched abortions, his connection with former '60s radical William Ayers and his response to the financial crisis.

An Obama spokesman said the "dishonorable, dishonest" calls were a desperate move.

"John McCain's campaign has admitted that the economy is a losing issue for them, so he's chosen to launch dishonorable and dishonest attacks like this," Obama national spokesman Bill Burton said.

The calls come a day after McCain and Obama accused each other of running negative campaigns.

Republicans have been hammering Obama for weeks for his association with Ayers, a key figure in the Weather Underground of the Vietnam War era. The radical group took credit for a number of bombings, including of the Pentagon. A case against Ayers was thrown out of court because of misconduct by investigators. He is now an education professor in Chicago and has served on a board with Obama.

McCain said he did not care about "an old washed-up terrorist" like Ayers Wednesday night at his debate with Obama.

Obama condemned Ayers' actions of 40 years ago, and said the former radical was not involved in his campaign and would not advise him as president.

(Script of the call after the jump)

Here is the text of the call referring to Ayers:

"Hello. I'm calling for John McCain and the RNC (Republican National Committee) because you need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayres, whose organization bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge's home and killed Americans. And Democrats will enact an extreme leftist agenda if they take control of Washington. Barack Obama and his Democratic allies lack the judgment to lead our country. This call was paid for by McCain-Palin 2008 and the Republican National Committee at 202-863-8500."

The only deaths positively attributed to Weathermen bombs were three members of the group itself who were killed when a bomb they were working on exploded prematurely. The Weathermen, along with the Black Panther organization, were investigated for another bombing that killed a San Francisco police officer, but that bombing remains unsolved.

The son of a New York State supreme court justice says that the Weathermen were also responsible for a bomb at his father's home in February 1970, basing his claim on a letter from Weather Underground member Bernadine Dohrn (Ayers' wife) sent to the Associated Press in November promising more bombings. Investigators, however, believe that letter was referring to the bombing of a New York courthouse in October.

The Weathermen claimed responsibility for the courthouse bombing, as they did other bombings attributed to them. No one claimed responsibility for the bombing of the judge's home, and the the case was never solved.

–CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley contributed to this report.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (583 Responses)
  1. Frank Honolulu

    Seems the republicans are working like underhanded rats. This is their style. No integrity, just mean-spiritness and greed. Why would anyone want to be a republican?

    October 16, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  2. Craig Nazor

    Such lies are not only bad for the Republicans – they are bad for Democracy in America. If the Republicans were actually able to WIN on such distortions, the anger generated in the opposition would cause Democrats to fight Republicans for the next four years in a way that would further polarize America. And many independent Americans who supported Obama would simply loose all faith in the democratic process. If someone can win the Presidency through lies, what does that say about our Democracy?

    McCain has lost all honor by supporting such tactics, and proved why he would be such a poor choice for President of the United States.

    October 16, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  3. Independent for Obama!!

    well, what else can they do with the money they have left? they're not smart enough to use it wisely, so they use it the only way they know how, to knock others down instead of lifting our country up. They are showing us Independents that they would rather divide instead of unite. They are deseparate and they're showing it.

    October 16, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  4. Tony

    Is this a joke? A fake story? Someone tell me, for the love of all that's good and right, that this isn't actually the type of campaign strategy that McCain himself is employing? Even after he had numerous opportunities to fully address this accusation face-to-face with Obama, and chose not to (more like wussied out)?

    This is just sad and pathetic. Especially after Obama lent out an olive branch earlier, about running respectable campaigns that aren't based on complete trash and smear.

    October 16, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    Sorry, the hate ain't working for me McCain, that's pitiful

    October 16, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  6. shoppingkharma

    How pathetic. Change the subject already! Move on and focus on the real issues that like really matter! Is he just mental and delusional? We don't care, he answered the question already? Did he just not wear his hearing aid or just wasn't paying attention? What the hell is his problem? He is showing that he is a true Alzheimer's victim. Good thing Obama supports stem cell research and we could see improvements made on Alzheimer's in the near future and we can finally shut McGollum up! Yeah he is starting to look and sound like Gollum from Lord of the Rings.

    October 16, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  7. Gerry

    What a horrible little man John McCain is. Why is it that the Republicans can’t run on their own record rather than attack Obama about events that took place when Obama was 8 years old! McCain deserves to loose and take all of the other horrible little men with him. Good riddance.

    October 16, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  8. Pat Townshend ALNES

    Why would anyone want to use Robotcalls to distrube families when they are suppose to be having quality time with there children.

    October 16, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  9. SP

    i don't think slander laws apply if you are stating facts....

    October 16, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  10. Tim

    I got one of those robocalls today.

    I think McCain owes me a personal call to apologize for continuing to make Ayers central to his campaign after Obama explained it to him last night. If I had received a call telling me about his plans, I might have paid attention. But Ayers is not the issue. Neither is Obama relationship to him while serving on a republican funded nonprofit.

    The issue is the economy and McCain doesn't have a clue.

    October 16, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  11. Marie

    I guess McCain and Palin haven't learned their lesson. I hope Obama wins by a landslide. Have you noticed that Palin never talks about issues. Isn't it funny that Joe the Plumber would actually do better with his taxes under a President Obama. Senator Obama's plan would actually raise a small amount of taxes on 2% of small businesses. Again, John McCain doesn't know what he is talking about. All they can do is smear their opponent because they have nothing else to run on. Oh, when is someone going to ask Sarah Palin about her husband's seven year membership in an organization that wants to succeed from the U.S.? John Vogler, founder of the group, has stated that he does not want to be buried under an American Flag. Maybe someone should put that on the Republicans phone message. But, no one can ask Sarah Palin anything. If you do, you are sexist and cruel!

    October 16, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  12. susie

    Senator McCain, why not try to exhibit an umph of decency? God is watching and recording for Heaven's sake!

    October 16, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  13. Mike

    If I receive one of these calls, I am going to try to keep the caller on the phone as long as I can, see if I can get them to send me materials, and essentially try to consume as much of their time & resources as I can. When the materials come in the mail, they will get promptly pitched.

    October 16, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  14. ipe

    What a shame! How low can this so-called "American hero" be?

    I'm just a foreign observer.... I'm amazed at seeing your electoral system at its best. yet, the lower it gets, the more i understand why so called leaders of democratic countries follow the gutter-politics that the repubz employ.

    Go for change folks!!!!

    October 16, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  15. Jeannie Baltimore, MD

    How pathetic is John McCain and his simple minded sidekick Sarah Palin, who really believes the American people would ever put that dumb dumb in the White House. Not now, not 2012, not 2016, not ever. I hope impeachment proceedings are waiting for her when she gets back to Alaska. Rolling Stone magazine has a rather lengthy article on the real John McCain. He's not a very nice person, never has been. Google it, you'll see.

    I'll be glad when this over in 18 days.

    October 16, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  16. Todd

    Here in NC – Liddy Dole – OUT – just ask anyone. Even my die hard republican parents and family are not pulling straigh Repub so they can get Dole out of office, oh yeah and they are not voting for Pat McCroy either...YAY! I could not convince them to vote for Obama, but the streets are lined in Obama signs and bumpers are full of "O" stickers. I think we can pretty much secure Obama a win here in NC.

    October 16, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  17. EBJ

    gee I thought Sen Obama cleared this up last night but the GOP still keeps wanting to ride this dead horse. If this continues perhaps the Democrats should start asking MORE questions about Gov Palin and her involvment with the Alaska seperatist party. I think that may be far more serious than as Sen McCain himself said worrying about an old terrorist figure from back in the 60's!

    October 16, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  18. Gary

    The Dems have lots of crap they could throw back at the Repugs...

    Don't think they will need to but deep down I would love to see them smear just half as much as the McCain/Palin tools.

    October 16, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  19. Sophia Beck

    ah the Republicans have reared their ugly head once again. I love when these headliners are up and running. It just proves how mean spirited and selfish they are. That 70 million dollars could go to giving aid for Children with no health insurance. Talk about wasting money! The very core of GOP mantra-Don't spend, don't waste--
    ya but lets put 70 million dollars in bashing Obama!

    You must be very proud of yourself- You are a bunch of mad people!


    October 16, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  20. jose

    These are no surprise especially when MCshame is out of touch,run out of ideas and running out of time.just as we saw in the last debate he only looked mean,grumpy and scary,no ideas while Obama unleashes points on issues that matter to Americans at ease and in a cool characteristiacally presidential manner.

    Go Obama/Biden

    October 16, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  21. den

    typical of an old tired man with no new ideas if he ever had an original thought.

    October 16, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  22. Astounded

    CNN – Can you please do the country a favour and pounce on this dispicable act by John McCain. This is the saddest, most pathetic thing I have ever seen in North American Politics.

    October 16, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  23. Juan Grain

    the best way to straighten out the Republican party is to vote a straight blue ticket. i am an independent, and have no loyalties to either party, but i have had it with the GOP. they need to be spanked, and spanked hard. After this election they will get the message and the best will rise and the others will be finished.

    October 16, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  24. Pat

    Why would anyone want to use Robocalls to distrube families when they are suppose to be having quality time with their children.

    October 16, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  25. Independent Woman

    It's amazing what desperate people would do. It's a good thing that Obama had the opportunity to explain away the so-called relationship hyped-up by the McCain/Palin. Just when I thought that McShame can't get any worse. Boy, did he prove me wrong! I guess McCain just can't lose with any dignity left.

    October 16, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
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