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Palin draws 15,000 in Carson

Says Obama ‘palled around with terrorists’

Posted: October 4, 2008 9:03 p.m.
Updated: December 6, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Republican vice president candidate Sarah Palin gives the thumbs up to a Vietnam veteran in the stands while speaking to about 10,000 supporters at the Home Depot Center in Carson on Saturday.

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CARSON — Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Saturday accused Democrat Barack Obama of “palling around with terrorists” because of an association with a former 1960s radical, stepping up an effort to portray Obama as unacceptable to American voters.

Palin’s reference was to Bill Ayers, one of the founders of the group the Weather Underground. Its members took credit for bombings, including nonfatal explosions at the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol, during the Vietnam War era. Obama, who was a child when the group was active, has denounced Ayers’ radical views and activities.

In 1970, the group was blamed for a pipe bomb in San Francisco that killed a police officer and injured another. Three members of the group were killed in 1970 in an accidental explosion of a bomb in their Greenwich Village basement.

While it is known that Obama and Ayers live in the same Chicago neighborhood, served on a charity board together and had a fleeting political connection, no one has provided evidence to say the pair ever palled around. And it’s simply wrong to suggest that they were associated while Ayers was committing terrorist acts.

Nonetheless, Palin made the comments at two appearances in separate states.

“Our opponent is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country,” Palin told a rally of about 10,000 gathered at a tennis stadium in Carson, a suburb of Los Angeles.

That echoed comments she made earlier in the day to donors at a private airport in Englewood, Colo.: “Our opponent ... is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.”

Falling behind Obama in polls, the Republican campaign plans to make attacks on Obama’s character a centerpiece of candidate John McCain’s message in the final weeks of the presidential race. Coming late in the campaign, Palin’s remark could be particularly incendiary, however, and could knock Obama off his focus on the troubled economy.

The campaign was clearly prepared to raise the Ayers’ connection to Obama. In addition to Palin’s comments at her appearances Saturday, the McCain campaign distributed Palin’s comments to reporters.

“This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America,” Palin said. “We see America as a force of good in this world. We see an America of exceptionalism.”

The Obama campaign called Palin’s remarks offensive but not surprising in light of news stories detailing the campaign’s come-from-behind offensive.

“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,” Obama campaign spokesman Hari Sevugan said in a statement.

Palin’s remarks come as e-mails circulate on the Internet with suggestions that the Democratic candidate is secretly a radical, foreign-born Muslim with designs against the U.S. Obama is a native of Hawaii who lived in Indonesia as boy. He is a Christian.

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