Barack Obama in 2000 interview
In an interview during his failed congressional bid in 2000, Barack Obama cited a job at an organization founded by former Weathermen radical Bill Ayers as evidence of his qualification for public office.
A new video posted on YouTube features the interview with a Chicago television station.
“One of the criticisms that arises in connection with your candidacy is that you haven’t been in the Senate very long, the state Senate,” the interviewer said. “You have a limited track record in terms of time. What is your argument, based on the one term that you served in the Senate so far, that makes you prepared for the Congress?”
Obama replied: “Well, I’m in my second term, but it’s true that certainly both Senator Trotter and Congressman Rush have been in elected office longer than I have. I can’t deny that.
“I would argue, though, that my experience previous to elected office equips me for the job. You know, I have a background as an attorney. I’ve represented affordable housing organizations to build affordable housing, something that is a major issue in the district. I’ve chaired major philanthropic efforts in the city, like the Chicago Annenberg Challenge that gave $50 million to prop school reform efforts throughout the city.”
See the video
Obama lost the 2000 primary race to U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, a former Black Panther and Chicago alderman who garnered 62 percent of the vote in a three-way race that included State Sen. Donne Trotter.
The Chicago Annenberg Challenge, or CAC, was founded in part by Ayers, who was also co-chairman of the Chicago School Reform Collaborative, one of the two operational arms of the CAC. Obama served as CAC chairman.
Obama’s 2000 reference to his role on the CAC contrasts sharply with multiple interviews as a presidential candidate in which he has sought to downplay his relationship with Ayers.
In an interview broadcast on the Fox News Channel last week, for example, Obama characterized Ayers as “somebody who worked on education issues in Chicago that I know.”
While chairing the CAC, Obama approved grants to some controversial figures, including a group founded by Ayers and led by former communist leader Mike Klonsky, WND exposed yesterday.
Ayers is currently a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and was a member of the Weathermen group, which sought to overthrow the U.S. government and took responsibility for bombing the U.S. Capitol in 1971.
Ayers has admitted to involvement in the bombings of U.S. governmental buildings in the 1970s.
Ayers told the New York Times in an interview released Sept. 11, 2001, “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.”
He posed for a photograph accompanying the piece that showed him stepping on an American flag.
Last week, Ayers wrote on his blog he still feels not enough was done to oppose the Vietnam War, although he clarified, “I don’t think violent resistance is necessarily the answer, but I do think opposition and refusal is imperative.”
In 1995, the first organizing meeting for Obama’s state senatorial campaign was reportedly held in Ayers’ apartment.
In a widely circulated article, WND first reported Obama served on the board of the Wood’s Fund, a liberal Chicago nonprofit, alongside Ayers from 1999 to Dec. 11, 2002, according to the Fund’s website. According to tax filings, Obama received compensation of $6,000 per year for his service in 1999 and 2000.
The “Friends of Barack Obama” campaign fund lists a $200 campaign contribution from Ayers April 2, 2001.
The two appeared together as speakers at several public events, including a 1997 University of Chicago panel entitled, “Should a child ever be called a ‘super predator?'” and another panel for the University of Illinois in April 2002 entitled, “Intellectuals: Who Needs Them?”
Ayers’ wife, Bernardine Dohrn, 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 charges against Ayers were dropped in 1974 because of prosecutorial misconduct, including illegal surveillance.
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