POLITICS

Clinton hits Obama over friendship with 60’s radical

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Politics,Bill Sammon

Encouraged by the fallout over Barack Obama’s ex-pastor, Hillary Clinton’s campaign on Thursday attacked Obama for befriending a radical who once bragged of bombing the Pentagon.

Clinton seemed to be trying to turn William Ayers, a former member of the Weather Underground, into the next Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s controversial spiritual mentor. In a New York Times article published on Sept. 11, 2001, Ayers boasted of bombing the Pentagon and other government buildings, adding: "I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough."

That quote was cited Thursday by Clinton spokesman Phil Singer, who questioned why Obama has "maintained a relationship" with Ayers.

The Ayers controversy was raised Wednesday at a Democratic debate by moderator George Stephanopoulos after the question was suggested to him by Sean Hannity during an interview on Hannity’s radio show.

Asked by The Examiner to respond to this line of attack, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe countered that former President Bill Clinton pardoned two members of the Weather Underground. Susan Rosenberg had been in prison for her role in an armed robbery that left three people dead, while Linda Evans had been in prison on weapons and explosive charges in connection to a string of bombings.

"The Clinton campaign for awhile said their total mission was to try and convince superdelegates that we were unelectable because of Reverend Wright, so maybe they’re going to focus on Ayers now," Plouffe said. "There’s a desperation in the campaign."

Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson rejected the comparison to Rosenberg and Evans saying Obama’s campaign has called the candidate’s relationship with Ayers "friendly." The two served on a board together, and Ayers once hosted a fundraiser for Obama.

"We’re not talking about whether or not Senator Obama ran into somebody at an ice cream store in Hyde Park; we’re talking about somebody who was a key supporter of his first race for elected office," Wolfson said.

bsammon@dcexaminer.com

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