October 27, 2008— -- His relationship with Sen. Barack Obama has become a major theme of the McCain campaign.
His background with a 1960's domestic terror group, the Weather Underground, has been recounted in hundreds of news articles.
His words could add to the evidence that debunks the claims Obama was "palling around with terrorists."
But Bill Ayers is staying mum, and working hard to duck reporters and the campaign spotlight in the final week before the election.
He told a journalism student attending a education justice symposium in New York Sunday he and other former radicals were being "demonized" by Fox News. "We're nice guys, right?"
Asked by the student, if he repudiated the actions of the Weather Underground, which carried out a series of 1960's robberies and bombings that killed at least six people, Ayers walked away without answering.
Ayers declined requests for an interview from ABC News, and after the appearance in New York, he used a garbage-littered freight elevator in an unsuccessful attempt to duck ABC News cameras waiting outside.
"I have nothing to say," he told ABC News as he left the building, accompanied by several burly men in dark suits.
Asked about Sen. John McCain's description of him as a "washed up terrorist," Ayers said nothing as he raced to find a taxi.
Ayers appeared as an "artist" at a forum devoted to dealing with issues including educational injustice.
Organizers of the event attempted to stop media coverage by falsely claiming Ayers' appearance had been canceled.
Ayers, now a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, made no mention of his radical past or Sen. Obama during an hour and a half presentation to a group of about 50 people attending the Harold Clurman Festival of the Arts.
Obama served on the board of an education reform group with Ayers in Chicago, where both men were prominent figures.
When Obama first ran for public office, in 1995, Ayers held a fundraiser for him at his house, according to a February 2008 article on Politico.com.
In an interview with ABC News, Obama told Charlie Gibson, "This is a guy who engaged in some despicable acts 40 years ago when I was eight years old."
Obama said he had talked with Ayers about school reform issues, but said, "the notion that somehow he has been involved in my campaign, that he is an adviser of mine, that I've palled around a terrorist, all these statements are made simply to try to score cheap political points."
Charges against Ayers were dropped in the 1970's after revelations of illegal FBI wiretapping.
Molly Dean is a 2008 intern at the Brian Ross Investigative Unit at ABC News. She is a graduate student in journalism at New York University.