How Obama Crossed Paths With a Radical '60s Bomber

Candidate's links with ex-Weatherman probed
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2008 10:04 AM CDT
This May 17, 1982 file photo Bill Ayers, a former member of the Weather Underground, walks with wife, Bernardine Dohrn, and their son, Zayd Dohrn, 4, outside Federal Court in New York.    (AP Photo/David Handschuh)
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(Newser) – Bill Ayers' past as a bomb-planting '60s radical has been largely forgiven in Chicago—even the mayor says, “He’s done a lot of good in this city and nationally”—but it keeps popping up to haunt Barack Obama, the New York Times reports. The pair live in the same neighborhood and served together on the board of a charitable organization, but have never been close, though a new ad from the McCain campaign this week highlights their links.

Ayers, now an education professor, is "somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8," Obama says. Conservatives claim Obama plays down his relationship with Ayers. Times interviews with people who know the men suggest the candidate has indeed understated the dealings he had with Ayers, but the pair have had little contact since 2002, and there is no indication Ayers' radical beliefs had any influence on Obama.