ABCNews.com falsely asserted that an Obama campaign ad questioning why Sen. John McCain is "trying to link [Sen.] Barack Obama to radical Bill Ayers" is "incorrect in insinuating that John McCain himself has brought up Ayers," adding, "[I]t is in fact McCain's campaign that has sought to use the Ayers association against Obama." In fact, McCain himself brought up Ayers unprompted during an April interview on ABC's This Week. Further, ABCNews.com gave no indication that McCain has repudiated or in any way distanced himself from his aides' comments linking Ayers to Obama.
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An August 25 entry on ABCNews.com's Political Radar blog falsely asserted that an Obama campaign ad -- which includes an announcer saying, "With all our problems, why is [Sen.] John McCain talking about the '60s, trying to link [Sen.] Barack Obama to radical Bill Ayers?"-- "is incorrect in insinuating that John McCain himself has brought up Ayers." In fact, "McCain himself ... brought up Ayers," unprompted, during an April interview on ABC's This Week. The post also said: "[I]t is in fact McCain's campaign that has sought to use the Ayers association against Obama," suggesting that McCain is somehow not responsible for what his campaign says. Reporter Tahman Bradley gave no indication that McCain has repudiated or in any way distanced himself from his aides' comments linking Ayers to Obama.
In the August 25 post, Bradley reported that "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" and that the ad is intended to "accuse Sen. McCain of raising the Ayers issue in the presidential campaign." Bradley then reported, "The spot is incorrect in insinuating that John McCain himself has brought up Ayers." But during an April 20 interview on This Week, after host George Stephanopoulos asked McCain whether Obama "shares your sense of patriotism," McCain replied, "I'm sure he's very patriotic, but his relationship with Mr. Ayers is open to question." McCain then persisted in criticizing Obama about Ayers during the interview.
After falsely asserting that McCain has not "brought up Ayers," Bradley continued: "[I]t 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." Bradley quoted Rogers questioning Obama's judgment for associating with an "unrepentant terrorist," which is a recurring talking point from McCain's campaign. On August 20, Rogers referred, in a statement, to Obama's "relationship with the unrepentant terrorist William Ayers," and on May 18, spokesman Tucker Bounds commented that "when Barack Obama was beginning his career in politics he was launching it at the home of William Ayers, an unrepentant domestic terrorist."
From the April 20 edition of ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you have any doubt that Barack Obama shares your sense of patriotism?
McCAIN: I'm sure he's very patriotic, but his relationship with Mr. Ayers is open to question. And that --
McCAIN: Because, if you're going to associate and have as a friend and serve on a board and have a guy kick off your campaign that says he's unrepentant, that he wished he'd bombed more. And then, the worst thing of all, that I think really indicates Senator Obama's attitude, is he had the incredible statement that he compared Mr. Ayers, an unrepentant terrorist -- an unrepentant terrorist, with Senator Tom Coburn. Senator Coburn, a physician who goes to Oklahoma on the weekends and brings babies into life.
Comparing those two, I mean, that's not -- that's an attitude, frankly, that certainly isn't in keeping with the overall attitude of the American people --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Obama said --
McCAIN: -- and it's very insulting to a great man, a great doctor, a great humanitarian. To compare him with a guy who says in -- after 2001, I wish we had bombed more? I had a reconciliation with the anti-war movement. One of the great experiences of my life was to get to know and love David Ifshin. I had a reconciliation with the Vietnamese, when we normalized relations. But how can you countenance someone who was engaged in bombings, which could have or did kill innocent people?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Obama says he was eight years old when that was happening.
McCAIN: But he became friends with him and spent time with him, while the guy was unrepentant over his activities as a member of a terrorist organization, the Weathermen. And then to compare him with Dr. Tom Coburn who spends so much of his life bringing babies into this world -- that in my view is really -- it borders on outrageous.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He also pointed out that he and Mr. Ayers have a very loose relationship. They live in the same neighborhood; there was an organizing meeting many, many years ago, he says, in his house and he says, frankly, I don't agree with these comments that Mr. Ayers made.
McCAIN: Doesn't agree with them? Does he condemn them? Does he -- would he condemn someone who says that they're unrepentant and wished that they had bombed more, and compare him to a doctor, one of the great humanitarian, in my view, one of the greatest spokesperson for the rights of the unborn in America?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you say he should condemn these comments.