Strangely Timed Obama Response Ad on William Ayers
August 25, 2008
ABC News' Tahman Bradley Reports: As Michelle Obama prepares for a primetime speech that will talk about her and Barack Obama's American values, the Obama campaign is using a new television ad to take on the issue of Obama's association with a 1970s radical who bombed the Capitol and Pentagon.
The release of the ad, first reported on Time.com's "The Page", could have the unintended consequence of reminding voters that Obama has in the past been friendly with William Ayers, a Chicago law professor who to this day remains unrepentant about his work with the violent Weather Underground group in the 1960s and 70s.
Obama has denounced Ayers' actions with the radical group, but has also referred to Ayers as "mainstream" and "respectable," a point that conservatives continue to pound the soon-to-be Democratic nominee about.
A 501(c) 4 group, acting independent of Republican John McCain's presidential campaign, last week, hammered Obama for his relationship with Ayers with a provocative television spot in Ohio and Michigan.
"Why would Barack Obama be friends with someone who bombed the Capitol and is proud of it? Do you know enough to elect Barack Obama," the spot by American Issues Project says.
Some news organization, including Fox News Channel, refused to air the ad which uses images of 9/11. The Obama campaign says it has been reaching out to advertisers and sponsors to put pressure on stations to reject the ad, which it calls "despicable" and "false."
Rather than firing back at the outside group, the Obama campaign uses its new TV ad to accuse Sen. McCain of raising the Ayers issue in the presidential campaign.
"With all our problems, why is John McCain talking about the sixties, trying to link Barack Obama to radical Bill Ayers?," an announcer says.
The spot is incorrect in insinuating that John McCain himself has brought up Ayers -- it is in fact McCain's campaign that has sought to use the Ayers association against Obama, and McCain spokesman Brian Rogers did so again upon learning about the ad.
"The fact that Barack Obama chose to launch his political career at the home of an unrepentant terrorist raises more questions about Senator Obama's judgment than any TV ad ever could," Rogers said in a statement.
To the Obama campaign's point, a former McCain aide, Ed Failor Jr. is a key backer of American Issues Project, although he no longer has official ties with the campaign.
The group's sole $2.87 million funder, Texas billionaire Harold Simmons, has bundled between $50,000 and $100,000 for McCain. Simmons, along with another organizer for American Issues Project, Christian Pinkston, were both involved with the 2004 Swift Boats Veterans for Truth group that assailed Sen. John Kerry's war record.
The Obama campaign's attorney Bob Bauer sent a letter to the Justice Department arguing that American Issues Project is engaging is evading federal election law.
501(c) 4 groups are prohibited by law from coordinating with political campaigns to attack a candidate. The McCain campaign denies it has coordinated with the group.
Even with American Issues Project's possible ties to McCain, one key issue still remain. Why would the Obama campaign even want to bring up Ayers as the Democratic National Convention gets underway tonight in Denver?