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Sarah Palin attacks over Barack Obama's link to a '60s radical


With exactly one month until election day, will Bill Ayers, the anti-Vietnam War radical who helped found a bomb-planting protest group, morph into what some observers earlier had predicted -- the Willie Horton of the 2008 presidential campaign? Bill Ayers

Horton, for those too young to remember, was a felon who, while on a weekend furlough from prison in Massachusetts, committed a heinous crime in Maryland. It happened under Michael Dukakis' gubernatorial watch, and in the final months of his 1988 White House bid the case was effectively used against him by his GOP rivals.

With this year's race entering its final stretch -- and Barack Obama having staked out a solid lead in recent polling -- John McCain's campaign has sent out word it's really ready to play hard ball against Obama (and here we naively thought the game already had been rough).

Out of the gate, it looks like hammering home Obama's link to Ayers could be central to that strategy.

The matter first arose several months ago during the Democratic nomination battle, and the Obama campaign felt compelled to post a page on its website that depicted his association with Ayers as tenuous.

Today, in a front-page story, the New York Times took its crack at airing out the Ayers connection. Here's the key part of the piece:

A review of records ... and interviews with a dozen people who know both men, suggest that Mr. Obama, 47, has played down his contacts with Mr. Ayers, 63. But the two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers, whom he has called “somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8.”

Sarah Palin, campaigning in the Denver area, took that ball and ran with it.

The Times' Robin Abcarian relates that Palin, speaking at a fundraiser, used a wry reference to one of the well-publicized questions she faced recently from CBS' Katie Couric to broach the Ayers issue. Said the Republican vice presidential candidate:

There is a lot of interest, I guess, in what I read and what I’ve read lately. Well, I was reading my copy of today’s New York Times [audience boos] and I was interested to read about Barack’s friends from Chicago [audience cheers].

I get to bring this up not to pick a fight, but it was there in the New York Times, so we are gonna talk about it. Turns out one of Barack’s earliest supporters is a man who, according to the New York Times -- and they are hardly ever wrong [audience laughs] -- was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol.' Wow. ...

Referring to Obama, she continued:

This is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America. We see America as the greatest force for good in this world. If we can be that beacon of light and hope for others who seek freedom and democracy and can live in a country that would allow intolerance in the equal rights that again our military men and women fight for and die for for all of us. Our opponent, though, is someone who sees America it seems as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country?

[UPDATE: Palin said much the same later in the day at a big rally in Carson, Calif. Abcarian reports that Palin signaled early in her remarks to an overflow crowd of more than 8,000 in the tennis stadium of Carson’s Home Depot Center that she would be going after Obama. “One of my campaign staff said as I was walking out here, ‘OK, the heels are on, the gloves are off,’ ” Palin said.]

Her comments in Colorado already had given the Associated Press the obvious lead for its story -- that she accused Obama of....

... "palling around with terrorists" as part of what the article characterized as a stepped-up effort to portray him "as unacceptable to American voters."

That effort can be expected to accelerate. And, most immediately, Ayers' name almost assuredly will surface in Obama's face-off with McCain in a town-hall setting this Tuesday.

Just as assuredly, the Obama campaign can be expected to use every means at its disposal to keep the spotlight on the issue that seems to have turned the election its way: the nation's economic turmoil.

Indeed, here's how Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan handled the reaction to Palin's Colorado comments:

Gov. Palin’s comments, while offensive, are not surprising, given the McCain campaign’s statement this morning that they would be launching Swift Boat-like attacks in hopes of deflecting attention from the nation’s economic ills. 

In fact, the very newspaper story Gov. Palin cited in hurling her shameless attack made clear that Sen. Obama is not close to Bill Ayers, much less "pals," and that he has strongly condemned the despicable acts Ayers committed 40 years ago, when Obama was 8.

What’s clear is that John McCain and Sarah Palin would rather spend their time tearing down Barack Obama than laying out a plan to build up our economy.

The N.Y. Times' story, by the way, quickly got hit from both the left and the right.

At Daily Kos, it was lambasted as a cave-in by the paper to the conservative critics who never tire of carping about it.

At the National Review's site, it's dismissed as a whitewash job that serves Obama's purposes.

-- Don Frederick

Photo credit: Associated Press

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This is a bunch of nonsense we've already been through in the primaries. Obama was a small child when Ayers was busy being an idiot. Since then Ayers has become a respectable, productive member of society, as temporarily stupid young people often do.

You know, if ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC and most of the newspapers had been doing their job of vetting Barrack instead of giving him a pass on virtually everything, this kind of speech wouldn't have been given. Why do you think there is a Conservative movement with all of its players like Rush Limbaugh, Shaun Hannity and O'Reilly? Because there was a growing number of people fed up with the media slanting the news, trashing their candidates while painting glowing pictures of Democrats, and the constant assault on American values. Why doesn't the media wake up and smell the roses? If all the above named networks and papers were to revamp their formats to a more "fair and balanced" approach they would start getting back some of their base that left for FOX News or the internet. Take an example from Hannity and Colmes; one is on the left, the other the right, and both are equally passionate about their views. When anyone watches it they are going to be angry with one or the other, depending on their own personal viewpoints. Another thing FOX will do, which has both my respect and irritation is that they have no problem going after conservative Republicans when they screw up, even though it may hurt the party during elections; 2006 was a prime example and it helped the Dems regaining the House and Senate. I have rarely seen the other networks or papers do this because they have put their political agenda above the good of the country.

This from a woman who has charges pending against her in her own state....Embarrassing for the USA...

Oh boy! Now the campaign is going to get really dirty!
We all have things from our youth, but I guess McCain and Palin are down to mudslinging only to win. I actually was thinking of voting because of Palin, but I know in my heart that Obama is best for our country today!

Thanks Sara for reminding me. And thanks NY Times

We face very serious issues and need to elect serious people to deal with them. Let's none of us be sidetracked by such inflamatory words. We need to stand up and insist on truthful debates.

Oh say it ain't so Sarah - there ya go again looking to past to find fault and deflect the American people from the real issues. A 90 year old woman attempted suicide because she was losing her home, over 1/2 million jobs lost, no health care for hundreds of thousands, financial collapse and a war that was based on deception and lies.

Sorry not buying your bridge or road to no where.

Obama/Biden 08 Put country first and really change politics in Washington.

Sarah Palin - Even the special bus has it's share of pretty girls.

John McCain is still fighting the Vietnam war. He said the other day that we could have won it. How would that have been? Another 55,000 dead Americans--not counting those still dying terrible deaths from Agent Orange? Is Iraq his new Vietnam? Will he insist on moving stealthily into all the surrounding countries without informing the American people or trying diplomacy? He and Sarah Palin see to be pretty tight with Henry Kissinger. If I remember right, such nasty tactics were called the last straw in an unnecessary war for profit.

Now he's sending Sarah the Sweet Talker out with obvious lies (do the math--Barack Obama was in grade school, a little young to make the FBI's most wanted SDS list) to bloody his opponent. Nastiness like this coming from people, who say they want to bring civility back between the parties, will not only be the end of the McCain presidential hopes, but Sarah Palin will be a laughing stock and unable to further her own career. Stick to the facts and the truth, if you expect anyone to believe you, John McCain. Americans have wised up to delusional promises and outright lies made by any Republicans during the last eight miserable years. And shame on you for destroying Sarah Palin's credibility and her previously bright political future.

Another Mama for Obama!

It is amusing watching the liberals go nuts when Palin says anything about Obama after all the slander they've heaped on her.

Arent these the people who are "looking to the future" not
stuck in the past? And the "folks" who said its not time to point fingers???
Honestly, the republicans are shameless. Maybe we should be talking about McCains association with the Keating 5 and Palin's relationship with her witchcraft protector.

Shame on you Palin. You are promoting hate, harm, and prejudice against minorities.

Sarah Palin has nothing to offer. Since she knows she can't cause people to run towards her,. She has to hope she can cause people to run away from her opponent.
All the Republicans have to offer is hate and fear.
We don't need 4 more years of the same mindless fear and hate mongering we've endured for the last 8 years.
"Team Maverick" is truly empty rhetoric. Nothing maverick about these two.

This stupid woman is indeed an idiot. if she has the guts to say this about Obama, Obama and his supporters should not mind her being a female. they should quickly go after with clips of her interview with Katie Couric.

Palin is not only shameless but cluess. How can a 44 year old woman allow herself to be so used and abused by Bush advisers. Garbage in garbage out.

Who read the NYT for Palin in the first place?

Odd that Palin would take this tack after lecturing Biden about dwelling on the past. (NOT!) But professor Ayers is no Willie Horton, and to the extent that he becomes visible via interviews, etc., I think it will defuse the issue for most voters. In my view, a few high profile appearances by Ayers would have the same effect as the nerdy "Obama on a bicycle" photo that undercut early efforts to activate the subliminal "menacing black American" meme.

Why aren't more people flipping tables at the notion that they constantly attack on a personal and very childish levels, most of the time with blatant LIES?!?!

i agree with palin. i think obama is the closest thing to a terrorist there can be for presidential campaign. not to mention all the money he made out of the $700 billion dollar bail out deal... or the disgustingly unpatriotic remarks made by his lovely wife... people need to start doing their research and they'll see that obama is not what america needs. he's done nothing but lie and change his story around so he looks good. in my opinion, he's a snake that's just out to get his dollar. just like every other crooked politician. i expect a lot of liberal hate for this post but do your research. i've done mine.

Jesus, they are getting desparate aren't they? First they pull out of Michigan, now this. Pathetic. Utterly and completely pathetic. Tell us about Troopergate Sarah. The truth. Answer the debate questions. Don't tell us what you think we want to hear. Cowards, the pair of them.

No surprise here. Obama wanted to meet unconditionally with enemy leaders also. My concerns are, who exactly is Barrack Obama and what is his real agenda?

This kind of stuff is why Sara Palin is unfit for office. She lacks the character to lead us out of the horrible mess we are in.

About time the main stream media started covering Obama's radical past. America needs to wake up and see the 'real' Obama for who he is as well as who he isn't.

Why I ask is San Francisco police officer BRIAN McDONNELL"s name never mentioned in the media, its as if he never existed! He is the officer killed by Mr. Ayers weathermen. Ayers only escaped prosecution because of a legal angle. (wiretapping) The poor McDonnell family now has to watch as americans. especialy young americans are lied too about Obama' relationship with mr. Ayers. Was that good judgement to associate in any way with a unrepented terrorist. Californians should erect a statue to Officer McDonnell, then perhaps Obamea can attend the unveiling in a act of contrition!

She truly is just a hockey mom. Nothing more. Nuff said.

Well, it has become quite evident which parent carries the recessive down syndrome gene. Sarah Palin is a blubbering, lying idiot and is a danger to this country!

P.S. Just for those of you that do not have a sense of humor; I am well aware that down syndrome is not a genetic disease.

I smell something funny. What is that smell? Oh!!! Desperation! Sorry GOP. What will bring voters back to your side is not these classless attacks on Barack Obama. Guess what? You're going to have to come up with some kind of substance, some ideas, some solutions. I thought you were the party of new ideas. The mavericks. All you are doing is resorting to the same old bag of tricks the GOP has been using for the last 8 years. Lies, half-truths, and deceit. The American people see through it and are sick of it.

Wow is right! I hope this comes up at the next McCain/Obama debate. All Obama need do is mention all the jailed and investigated Republican Senators and tie McCain to them. Heck! Gosh darn! Gee golly! That might even begin to approach reality! The Ayers story is old news, Obama was 8 years old when Ayers was an "ultra-left radical". Maybe he met Patty Hearst once -- I don't know. But the point is, there was no close relationship. I suspect Palin will next link Obama to Tim McVey -- after all, if you live in a Chicago, you can see Kansas City from there! And if you can see it, apparently, you can believe it!

How many "hail marys" is the McCain/Palin ticket going to throw?

This isn't even worth comparing to the Willie Horton brouhaha. That had an ounce of relevance - at the time.

Miss Perky-Pants is just pure evil to stoop to such low, manipulative depths. She's like a much prettier Anne Coulter. Come to think of it - where has Coulter been? We haven't seen her face in a about a year. Could it be??? Noooo.... All the plastic surgery in the world couldn't transform Coulter....

It's about time that the McCain camp started fighting!! There are plenty of negatives out there to hit Obama with. His associations with radical racist extremists (Wright), his association with convicted felons from Syria (Rezko) his association with mortgage scum (RAines), his association with racist (Pfleger), his association with Ayers ( a known and admitted terrorists) etc ...

Obama is nothing more than a corrupt politican from the Chicago Machine ... He doesn't have the best interest of this country in mind. He is an egotistical power hungry pig who is out for his own agendas ... and given his past associations one would have to wonder exactly what those agendas are !

The appearance is that Ms. Palin can read - a little - but not make any sense of the words that swim through the narrow channels of her brain. Much more likely is that someone on McCain's staff took that piece and told her exactly what to say. I think the sarcasm was probably her own singular addition.

Here they go again, feed their little minion a script, point and tell her go get em'...Yap, Yap, Yap, Yap!
McSame is desperate and in the end (hopefully) the American public will tell McSame and his little smiley, winkey minion to take a hike.

boy McCain and palin are really reaching. There campain has really stooped to a new low.

So obama was 8 when this guy was doing his thing?

At first I thought your comment was serious... started out that way... and I was kind of agreeing with the sentiment that Palin was off base for her comments... however, when you started describing McCain as a man compensating because he lacks what it really takes... I knew you had to be writing sarcastically. McCain, not having what it takes? Have you read about this man? Give me a break!!

Obama being tied to terrorists is as moronic as McCain being tied to the NRA because he's of his name. Pathetic.

It seems that dirt is all that our Republican comrades seem to have....Not intelligance, nor political sagicity....Just scurolous ignorant comments meant to inflame the imaginations of other ignorant lowlives....This, it seems is the way thatthe members of the Republican deem it proper to ascend the road to the White House.....not through intelligance nor through and form of decent intelligent exchange.....and so the think thatwe the American people are ready for more of the destructive stupidity that has nearly destroyed our country over the last 8 years .....SHAME

Good! Finally! Somebody should! I can't believe the mainstream media missed this; Journalism leaves a lot to be desired these days. Thank you Vice President Palin, the American people need a voice to get the word out about these degenerate, malcontent evil hippies. I got your revolucione right here, Billy boy...

The runnerup in the Miss Alaska beauty contest should focus on watching out for Russians--and for Putin coming into her "air space." Airheads have precious little air space to give.

FUNNY STUFF. After 16 years of this crap, I hope the us citizen is waking up. "our type of people" sounds racist to me. My america, your america.. keep america free and make sure your vote counts.

I don't need these two sick puppies running my
country. McCain and Palin are really pathetic
human beings. They know they can't win by
being honest and upstanding so lets try and win
being ugly and lying. What a sad pathetic pair
these two are.
I hope America is smarter than this to vote for
these two. They have no morals, no honesty,
and they will cheat their way in no matter what.
Don't want them Don't need these two.
America will really be taken down further with
these two losers.

I am intrigued by the Ayers connection. Also the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and ACORN. Also Obama's time in Pakistan and papers he wrote in his undergrad and grad school. South side of chicago thug politico's do leave tracks.

Come on here. We know about Bristol but not Obama? He is likable but secretive. I am not sure about either party, but something is fishy about the Obama back story. I bet the minute he is elected then the media will take the gloves off.

Seconds before the debate between Senator Biden and the Governor Palin, right on the stage, Governor Pailn asked Senator Biden if she could call him "Joe" during the debate, and he said; That's OK.
During the whole debate Governor Palin never mentioned or named or call Senator John McCain for "John", one single time. What a dirty trick and what a respectless attitude Governor is showing! Her question to Senator Biden she was almost whispiring to him and was not ment to heard and afterwards a sekvense was replayed and the sound up so everybody could hear it. She was using his name with a derogative intention. Get this mare out of the presidential race!!! Or Bail her out!

She's a ridiculous whore. Political - not sexual. This is less likely an attack than her picking up a news paper for the first time since her humanities class in Idaho Jr College after being embarrassed byCouric - and learning about the Ayres connection for the first time.

It's old hat sweetheart. Thy aren't friends. The people aren't buying it. And the people that do are already voting for you.

When you judge a person by the people that they meet and converse with I think that you should condemn Jesus Christ for having a lingthy conversation with the Devil. Check your Bible.

If Sarah Palin has to go back to the 1960's to find something fluid to attack Baraq Obama, who was only a teenager at the time - but has not committed any crime,
it shows the desperation of the McCain campaign to find
something to mud sling him - even his association with other teenagers at 1960's.

Is that relevant in 2008? With Sarah Palin and John McCain sliding down in the polls, while Obama is edging up, trying to dig out the turbulent events of the 1960's and pile up the dirt on Obama is mudslinging at worst -rather than campaign relevant information that voters who were not even born at the time are supposed to know.

Well, Sarah. Don't you think that those corruption investigations that have been going on against you in Alaska nowadays are more important than with whom Obama associated in his high school years?
Nikos Retsos, retired academic and 40 years resident of
Chicago and its political history

I don't blame Governor Palin for her negative attacks on Senator Obama, clearly Senator Mc Cain's people are fueling the flames.

Palin doesn't even remember the 60's and only uses the world Radical to describe something different, ya know radical.

The message being delivered is that he hangs out with some bad black people... "good job senator Mc Cain" I wonder if I can find the mug shots of the Keating five on the internet.

While we are digging up dirt. Is Mc Cain collecting social security?

Is it true that Palin was screwing around on her husband, that her son was busted for drugs and had to go into the Army to get on the straight and narrow.

Is it true that Palin had to attend 6 colleges in 4 years because she had to because of sexual mis conduct? Can we get a copy of her transcripts?

If I were the Mc Cain camp, I would go back to conducting a campaign with honor.

Oh by the way old people in California and Florida, Senator Mc Cain is going to cut your social security and health care to help pay for the Wall Street bail out.. Just goes to show you what you can say when not bound by facts, or truth.

This woman's 15 minutes of flame ohh excuse me fame is about to run out in November. Americans have suffered future felon Karl Rove she is no Karl Rove.

Ayers must be dangerous, he is a COLLEGE PROFESSOR. We know how conservatives fear education. If Palin had a friend who *went* to college--never mind taught at one--I would be impressed. (Sorry Palin, a BA in communications from U. Idaho isn't exactly VP credentials.)

And now, one hopes, in the interest of fairness, the New York Times and, eventually, the LA Times, will do detailed stories about McCain's criminal involvement in the "Keating Five" scandal and the last financial crisis in this country: the collapse of the savings and loan industry, the deregulation of which was McCain's number one priority.

Oh, but that's different, because McCain was actually involved in unethical conduct as a Senator who provided favors to Mr Keating in exchange for campaign contributions from him.

Mr Keating, the crooked banker, went to prison for his crimes. McCain got a "shame on you, you naughty naughty boy" slap on the wrist from his Senate colleagues.

So, yeah, let's delve into your past, too, Senator McCain. And while we're at it, since Sarah Palin brought it up - let's take another look at the Troopergate scandal your lawyers are trying so hard to obfuscate.

Fair is fair, John.

Here it comes! When all else fails, use the "Not too swifboaters" to smear the opponent. A sure sign of a very desparate and unscrupulous candidate.

This attack is an immoral, definitely un-Christian attack on a good man, and everyone is going to see right through this, Sarah Palin. You are not going to be forgiven for this outrageous smear, based on distortion and a lie not even YOU believe. This is what the Lord means when he says that "Pride Goeth Before The Fall." You cannot hide your self-righteousness from the eyes of the Lord! He knows your heart. You have crossed the line for personal gain and there is no turning back. The Lord will show you in November. I am ashamed, ashamed, ashamed of the Republican Party for turning to such character assassination. It is inexcusable and sad, sad, sad.

Go sarah. I am so so so happy. She has guts. The only one with guts. So refreshing to see a smile instead of a crabby preachy face and smirkly look like Obama. He is Reverend Wrigt;s double. Go sarahcuda

The McCain campaign is in serious trouble. With the polls tanking, resources running thin and Michigan abandoned, they're growing angry, desperate and erratic. If Gov. Palin had something serious to say on this subject, she wouldn't have referenced a New York Times article that essentially exonerates Sen. Obama. This amateurish smear job isn't presidential, it's sad.

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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