Obama dogged by links to 1960s radical

ByABC News
August 25, 2008, 11:54 PM

CHICAGO -- Conservatives are stepping up efforts to turn 1960s radical Bill Ayers into a political liability for Barack Obama.

This spring, Obama's links to Ayers briefly became a campaign controversy. Now American Issues Project is spending $2.8 million to air a TV ad highlighting links between Obama and Ayers, a founder of the Weather Underground Organization, which opposed the Vietnam War and was responsible for several bombings.

Obama released a rebuttal TV ad Monday. "With all our problems, why is John McCain talking about the '60s, trying to link Barack Obama to radical Bill Ayers?" a narrator asks.

A movie, Hype: The Obama Effect, was first shown Sunday in Denver. It was made by Citizens United, another conservative group, and explores the Ayers-Obama connection and questions whether Obama can unite the country.

Documents released today by the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) will be scrutinized for clues to the relationship.

Ayers was a founder of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a school-reform group. Obama chaired its board from 1995-99. National Review reported last week that UIC said records detailing meetings and other business were public, then reversed itself. UIC said Friday there was a misunderstanding.

Obama and Ayers, now a professor and author, live a few blocks apart in this city's Hyde Park neighborhood. Conservative activists say their relationship is evidence that Ayers' radical politics helped mold Obama's views.

"Ayers is clearly a relevant issue as it relates to Obama's pattern of relationships," says David Bossie of Citizens United.

American Issues Project spokesman Christian Pinkston says Ayers' influence is an open question, but "it's hard to see how one actually could resolve having any sort of relationship with an admitted, remorseless domestic terrorist."

The ad notes that Weathermen bombed the Capitol and asks why Obama would "be friends with someone who bombed the Capitol and is proud of it?"

Ed Failor, a founder of American Issues Project, worked for John McCain's Iowa campaign.