Robo-calls criticize Obama |

Robo-calls criticize Obama

Brendan Riley / The Associated Press

CARSON CITY – Automated phone calls from the McCain camp that began a day after John McCain’s last presidential campaign debate with Barack Obama continue the effort to link the front-running Democratic nominee with one-time Weather Underground leader William Ayers.

The robo-calls that began Thursday in Nevada, Wisconsin and other targeted states say that Obama “has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge’s home and killed Americans.”

Obama has condemned Ayers’ radical activities, which occurred when Obama was a child. There’s no evidence they ever were close friends or that Ayers advised Obama on policy.

In 1969, Ayers co-founded the Weather Underground, an anti-Vietnam war group that claimed responsibility for bombing several government buildings, including nonfatal explosions at the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol.

Ayers, a fugitive for years, surrendered in 1980, and charges against him were dropped because of prosecutorial misconduct. Eventually, he became a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

In 1995, Ayers, who lives in Obama’s Chicago neighborhood, hosted a meet-the-candidate session at his home for Obama as he prepared to run for the state Senate.

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From the mid-1990s to 2002, the two served on the boards of two nonprofit charitable organizations in Chicago. Chicago named Ayers its “Citizen of the Year” in 1997 for work on one of these.

McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said the robo-calls were warranted because Obama’s ties to Ayers “raises serious questions about Barack Obama’s judgment and also his candor with the American people about his record.”

“We’re getting calls from people across the country upset about these negative, despicable ads,” said Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor. “Sen. McCain calls Ayers an old, washed-up terrorist. If that’s the case, why is he spending all this money on these nasty, dirty robo-calls.”

During the final presidential debate Wednesday night, Republican nominee McCain demanded to know the full extent of Obama’s relationship with Ayers and the Democrat’s ties with ACORN, a liberal group accused of violating federal law as it seeks to register voters.

Obama condemned Ayers’ violent activities and denied any significant ties to ACORN. He also mocked McCain for bringing them up, saying, “I think the fact that this has become such an important part of your campaign, Sen. McCain, says more about your campaign than it says about me.”