Who is he?
- Bill Ayers, a Distinguished Professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago, and a former ’60s radical involved in the SDS and Weather Underground.
- Ayers participated in a series of bombings in the late ’60s and early ’70s, whose targets included the New York City police headquarters and the Pentagon. Ayers turned himself over to authorities in 1980, and eventually became an active part in the reforming of the Chicago educational system.
Why is everyone talking about him?
- Ayers served with future Senator Barack Obama on the board of an anti-poverty foundation from 1999 to 2002, and the pair frequently appeared together at academic panel discussions. Ayers also held a “meet-and-greet” for Obama in 1996, where State Senator Alice Palmer introduced him as her preferred candidate at for the State Senate Primary.
- Senator Hillary Clinton criticized Obama’s connections to Ayers during the Democratic primary, and the campaign for Senator John McCain, Obama’s opponent in current presidential election, has used their connection in attacks on Obama’s character. Governor Sarah Palin, McCain’s Vice-Presidential nominee, has suggested that Obama is “palling around with terrorists.”