Monday, October 6, 2008
GOP Makes Its Case on Obama-Ayers Connection
Here is the text of the Republicans argument concerning the relationship between Sen. Barack Obama and Bill Ayers, according to GOP.com. The GOP says the relationshhip is more extensive than Obama's campaign managers are willing to admit.
Obama's Top Campaign Staff Have Attempted To Downplay The Relationship Between Obama And Bill Ayers:
Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said that Obama and Ayers weren't close and that Obama was only eight years old when Ayers was bombing buildings. Robert Gibbs, on FOX's "FOX & Friends earlier today, said, "If you read the article ... it says these two men weren't close, this man isn't involved in our campaign. Bill Ayers is somebody that Barack Obama said his actions were despicable and these happened when Barack Obama was eight years old."
Gibbs has said the relationship between Obama and Ayers is limited to serving on two boards together. John Roberts of CNN's "American Morning" asked Gibbs this morning: "Barack Obama knew Bill Ayers and had contact with him between 1995 and 2005. Exactly what was the nature of the relationship?" Gibbs responded: "Well, John, as The New York Times reported this weekend, they served on two boards together during that time period."
Obama has previously referred to Ayers as "a guy who lives in my neighborhood" and not someone he exchanges ideas with "on a regular basis." Obama, during a Democrat presidential debate in April, said: "But this is an example of what I'm talking about. This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who's a professor of English in Chicago who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He's not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis. And the notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values doesn't make much sense."
But the Republican Party contends that Obama's connections with Bill Ayers are more extensive.
In 1995, during Obama's first State Senate campaign, William Ayers and his wife Bernadine Dohrn hosted a meeting of Chicago liberals at their home for Obama, which one attendee said was aimed at launching him.
"In 1995, State Sen. Alice Palmer introduced her chosen successor, Barack Obama, to a few of the district's influential liberals at the home of two well known figures on the local left: William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. While Ayers and Dohrn may be thought of in Hyde Park as local activists, they're better known nationally as two of the most notorious -- and unrepentant -- figures from the violent fringe of the 1960s anti-war movement.
Ben Smith of the Politico reported in February this quote: "I can remember being one of a small group of people who came to Bill Ayers' house to learn that Alice Palmer was stepping down from the senate and running for Congress,' said Dr. Quentin Young, a prominent Chicago physician and advocate for single-payer health care, of the informational gathering at the home of Ayers and his wife, Dohrn. '[Palmer] identified [Obama] as her successor.'
Young and another guest, Maria Warren, described it similarly: as an introduction to Hyde Park liberals of the handpicked successor to Palmer, a well-regarded figure on the left. "When I first met Barack Obama, he was giving a standard, innocuous little talk in the living room of those two legends-in-their-own-minds, Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn," Warren wrote on her blog in 2005. "They were launching him -- introducing him to the Hyde Park community as the best thing since sliced bread.'"
The GOP says that from March 1995 until September 1997, Obama and Ayers attended at least seven meetings together relating to the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. (The GOP cites Chicago Annenberg Challenge, Board Of Directors Meeting, Minutes Of The Board, 3/15/95, 3/31/95, 4/13/95, 6/5/95, 9/30/97; National Annenberg Challenge Evaluation Meeting, List Of Participants, 5/24/95; Chicago Annenberg Challenge, Chicago School Reform Collaborative Meeting, Minutes, 10/23/96)
The Republican Party also says Bill Ayers was asked to help Obama formulate the Chicago Annenberg Challenge By-Laws, citing the Chicago Annenberg Challenge Board Of Directors Minutes for March 15, 1995.
The GOP says that in 1997 Obama praised Ayers' book on the juvenile justice system. "The two men were involved in efforts to reform the city's education system. They appeared together on academic panels, including one organized by Michelle Obama to discuss the juvenile justice system, an area of mutual concern. Mr. Ayers's book on the subject won a rave review in The Chicago Tribune by Mr. Obama, who called it 'a searing and timely account.'" The GOP is citing an article by Jo Becker and Christopher Drew of The New York Times, "Pragmatic Politics, Forged On The South Side," published on May 11, 2008.
Obama comment on Ayers' "A Kind And Just Parent: The Children Of Juvenile Court": "A searing and timely account of the juvenile court system, and the courageous individuals who rescue hope from despair." (Chicago Tribune, 12/21/97). Obama and Ayers have also appeared jointly on two academic panels, one in 1997 and another in 2001," according to Russell Berman, writing "Obama's Ties To Left Come Under Scrutiny," in The New York Sun on Feb. 2, 2008.
From 1999 To 2002, Obama served with Ayers on the Board Of Directors for Woods Fund of Chicago. "[Ayers] served with [Obama] from 1999 to 2002 on the board of the Woods Fund, an anti-poverty group," according to Timothy J. Burger of Bloomberg, writing "Obama's Chicago Ties Might Fuel 'Republican Attack Machine'," on Feb. 15, 2008.
During the time Obama and Ayers served on the Woods Fund, Ayers was quoted saying, "I don't regret setting bombs. ... I feel we didn't do enough." "'I don't regret setting bombs." Ayers, who spent the 1970s as a fugitive in the Weather Underground, was quoted while sitting in the kitchen of his big turn-of-the-19th-century stone house in the Hyde Park district of Chicago by Dinitia Smith in "No Regrets For A Love Of Explosives" in The New York Times on, ironically, Sept. 11, 2001. The party notes that Obama was 40 at the time Ayers was quoted for this story.
While Obama and Ayers were serving on the Woods Fund together, Ayers posed standing on an American flag for an article in Chicago Magazine entitled "No Regrets," written by Marcia Froelke Coburn in August 2001.
Obama and Ayers are neighbors in Chicago's Hyde Park. "Twenty-six years later, at a lunchtime meeting about school reform in a Chicago skyscraper, Barack Obama met Mr. Ayers, by then an education professor. Their paths have crossed sporadically since then, at a coffee Mr. Ayers hosted for Mr. Obama's first run for office, on the schools project and a charitable board, and in casual encounters as Hyde Park neighbors." This excerpt is quoted by the GOP and comes from Scott Shane's "Obama And '60s Bomber: A Look Into Crossed Paths," which was published in The New York Times on Oct. 4, 2008.
Obama Spokesman Ben LaBolt told The New York Times that last year Obama and Ayers "bumped into each other on the street in Hyde Park." Shane's article said, "[LaBolt] said they have not spoken by phone or exchanged e-mail messages since Mr. Obama began serving in the United States Senate in January 2005 and last met more than a year ago when they bumped into each other on the street in Hyde Park."
Neighbors have said "it's only natural" that Obama would know Ayers, who often opens his home for gatherings, as Obama and his wife "are a part of our neighborhood and part of our social circle."
"Since coming out of hiding in 1980, the couple have raised three boys in Chicago and become part of the fabric of their liberal South Side neighborhood. Neighbors said it's only natural that Obama would know Ayers and Dohrn, who often open their homes for gatherings filled with lively discussions about politics, arts and social issues. Obama and his wife 'are part of our neighborhood and part of our social circle,' said Elizabeth Chandler, a neighbor of Ayers'." (The GOP cites this excerpt from Trevor Jensen, Robert Mitchum and Mary Owen's "Bill Ayers' Turbulent Past Contrasts With Quiet Academic Life" in the Chicago Tribune on April 17, 2008.
Ayers' organization, The Weather Underground, was a violent left-wing activist group, according to the Republican Party.
"William Ayers ... [was] a founding member of the group that bombed the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon during the 1970s," Russell Berman wrote in the New York Sun on Feb. 19, 2008. "Senator Obama's ties to a former leader of the violent left-wing activist group the Weather Underground are drawing new scrutiny as he battles Senator Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination."
The Weather Underground produced a manual that begins: "We are a guerrilla organization. We are communist women and men, underground in the United States for more than four years."
"The coalition was said to be a violence-prone faction inspired by the Weather Underground's ''Prairie Fire,'' a guerrilla warfare manual published in 1974. The manual begins, 'We are a guerrilla organization. We are Communist women and men, underground in the United States for more than four years.'" wrote Paul L. Montgomery in "2 Women In Brink's Case Identified With Weathermen From Start In '69," in The New York Times on Oct. 22, 1981.