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New move by John McCain camp to keep Bill Ayers front and center

October 8, 2008 | 10:02 am

It was a widely noted surprise -- given the spotlight John McCain's campaign had put, starting last weekend, on the Barack Obama-Bill Ayers link -- that the name of the once on-the-lam radical was not dropped in Tuesday night's debate between the two presidential candidates.

But today, McCain strategists launched their latest effort to keep the matter alive. The Republican's political headquarters in Arlington, Va., released the following statement from John M. Murtagh:

When I was 9 years old the Weather Underground, the terrorist group founded by Barack Obama’s friend William Ayers, firebombed my house. Barack Obama has dismissed concerns about his relationship with Ayers by noting that he was only a child when Ayers was planting bombs at the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol. But Ayers has never apologized for his crimes, he has reveled in them, expressing regret only for the fact that he didn’t do more.

While Barack Obama once downplayed his relationship with Ayers, today his campaign took that deceit one step further. Barack Obama now denies he was even aware of his friend’s violent past when, in 1995, Ayers hosted a party launching Obama’s political career. Given Ayers’ celebrity status among the left, it’s difficult to believe. The question remains: what did Obama know, and when did he know it?

When did Obama learn the truth about his friend? Barack Obama helped Ayers promote his book in 1997, served on charitable boards with him through 2002, and regularly exchanged emails and phone calls with him through 2005. At what point did Barack Obama discover that his friend was an unrepentant terrorist?

And if he is so repulsed by the acts of terror committed by William Ayers, why did the relationship continue? Any honest accounting by Barack Obama will necessarily cast further doubt on his judgment and his fitness to serve as commander in chief.

Barack Obama may have been a child when William Ayers was plotting attacks against U.S. targets — but I was one of those targets. Barack Obama’s friend tried to kill my family.

The McCain release goes on to provide background, relating that in early 1970, Murtagh’s father "was a New York State Supreme Court justice presiding over the trial of the so-called 'Panther 21,' members of the Black Panther Party indicted in a plot to bomb New York landmarks and department stores.

Early on the morning of February 21, three gasoline-filled firebombs exploded at their home on the northern tip of Manhattan, two at the front door and the third tucked neatly under the gas tank of the family car. The same night, bombs were thrown at a police car in Manhattan and two military recruiting stations in Brooklyn. ..."

We'll be surprised if Murtagh isn't featured soon in a McCain ad.

-- Don Frederick

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