American Issues Project television ad
Sen. Barack Obama is warning TV stations and asking the Justice Department to intervene in an attempt to block the airing of an ad by a non-profit group that links him to an unrepentant domestic terrorist.
The spot by the American Issues Project questions Obama's ties to William Ayers, a founder of the Weather Underground organization who boasted of a series of bomb attacks at the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol four decades ago.
The Associated Press said Obama's "going-for-the-jugular approach" was the kind of response many Democrats complained Sen. John Kerry lacked when he was confronted with the charges of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth during the 2004 presidential campaign.
But, as WND reported, Kerry actually took a similar approach. Instead of focusing on the Swift Boat Veterans' specific claims, his campaign threatened lawsuits against the television stations that aired the group's ads, demanded publisher Regnery pull the best-selling book "Unfit for Command," attacked the character of co-authors John O'Neill and Jerome Corsi, and accused the independent group of being run by the Republican party. The Kerry campaign also waged a multi-pronged attack on the Sinclair Broadcast Group over its plan to air a documentary " "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal", which featured former POWs telling how Kerry's 1971 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was used as propaganda against them by their North Vietnamese captors.
Many of the stations airing the anti-Obama ad – financed by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth funder Harold Simmons, a Texas billionaire – are owned by Sinclair, the AP reported.
Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor, who called the ads false, despicable and outrageous, said supporters of the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate have inundated stations with 93,000 e-mails.
"Other stations that follow Sinclair's lead should expect a similar response from people who don't want the political discourse cheapened with these false, negative attacks," Vietor told the AP.
Obama campaign lawyer Robert Bauer wrote to station managers, the AP said, warning: "Your station is committed to operating in the public interest, an objective that cannot be satisfied by accepting for compensation material of such malicious falsity."
See the American Issues Project ad:
Bauer also wrote to Deputy Assistant Attorney General John C. Keeney, calling the ad a "knowing and willful attempt to evade the strictures of federal election law."
American Issues Project counsel Cleta Mitchell responded today with the group's own letter to Keeney
"Let me be very clear: AIP is not in violation of any federal statute, regulation or other
applicable law," Mitchell writes. "This organization, its officers and directors and all those associated with it have taken great pains to comply with all provisions of law applicable to AIP’s activities and programs and will continue to do so at all times in the future."
Fox News and CNN rejected the ads, but as of yesterday, it ran about 150 times in local markets in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Michigan, the AP said.
"With all our problems, why is John McCain talking about the '60s, trying to link Barack Obama to radical Bill Ayers?" the announcer says in Obama's ad. "McCain knows Obama denounced Ayers' crimes, committed when Obama was just 8 years old."
The ad does not mention Obama's extensive ties to Ayers. Obama launched his political career with an event in Ayers' home, and WND first reported Obama served on the board of the Wood's Fund, a liberal Chicago nonprofit, alongside Ayers from 1999 to 2002.
Obama also was chairman, under Ayers' leadership, of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, or CAC, a school reform organization. The University of Illinois at Chicago, where Ayers is a professor, is scheduled to make available today records of Obama's service on the CAC board.
Responding to the Obama campaign's fierce reaction, American Issues Project spokesman Christian Pinkston said, "It seems they protest a bit too much."
William Ayers mugshot
"They're going all of these routes – threats, intimation – to thwart the First Amendment here because they don't have an argument on merit."
The AP noted that while the McCain campaign cannot coordinate efforts with outside groups, it took advantage of being the target of the response ad.
"The fact that Barack Obama chose to launch his political career at the home of an unrepentant terrorist raises more questions about Senator Obama's judgment than any TV ad ever could," McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said.
Ayers has admitted to involvement in the bombings of U.S. governmental buildings in the 1970s.
"I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough," he told the New York Times in an interview released Sept. 11, 2001
"Everything was absolutely ideal on the day I bombed the Pentagon," Ayers wrote in his memoirs, "Fugitive Days."
Ayers is married to another notorious Weathermen terrorist, Bernardine Dohrn, who also has served on panels with Obama. Dohrn, once on the FBI's Top 10 Most Wanted List, was described by J. Edgar Hoover as the "most dangerous woman in America." Ayers and Dohrn raised the son of Weathermen terrorist Kathy Boudin, who was serving a sentence for participating in a 1981 murder and robbery that left four people dead.
The American Issues Project ad says, "Barack Obama is friends with Ayers, defending him as, quote, 'Respectable' and 'Mainstream.' Obama's political career was launched in Ayers' home. And the two served together on a left-wing board. Why would Barack Obama be friends with someone who bombed the Capitol and is proud of it? Do you know enough to elect Barack Obama?"