Palin raises discredited Obama-Ayers link at Colorado fundraiser

She didn’t flip any pancakes, but Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin sure threw plenty of red meat to well-heeled donors Saturday when she accused Sen. Barack Obama of “palling around with terrorists who targeted their own country” at a Centennial Airport fundraiser that was closed to the public.

Referencing a Saturday New York Times story about Obama’s “tenuous” relationship with the former ’60s radical William Ayers — now a tenured professor of education at the University of Illinois-Chicago — Palin said of Obama, “This is not a man who sees America as you and I do — as the greatest force for good in the world.”

Expect more of the same from the McCain-Palin camp over the next 30 days, according to a Saturday Washington Post article that quotes McCain aides who promise aggressive attacks on Obama’s character to deflect voters’ attention from the economy.

“We’re going to get a little tougher,” a senior Republican operative said, indicating that a fresh batch of television ads is coming. “We’ve got to question this guy’s associations. Very soon. There’s no question that we have to change the subject here,” said the operative …

“Governor Palin’s comments, while offensive, are not surprising,” an Obama spokesman fired back at what it termed “Swiftboat-like attacks in hopes of deflecting attention from the nation’s economic ills.”

McCain signaled the shift himself Thursday at a town hall meeting in Denver when a supporter asked, “When are you going to take the gloves off?” and McCain replied, “How about Tuesday night?”

The next debate between McCain and Obama is Tuesday in Nashville.

In addition to condemning the tone of Palin’s attack Saturday, the Obama campaign challenged the substance. “In fact, the very newspaper story Governor Palin cited in hurling her shameless attack made clear that Senator Obama is not close to Bill Ayers, much less ‘pals,’ and that he has strongly condemned the despicable acts Ayers committed 40 years ago, when Obama was eight,” an Obama spokesman said.

Ayers, a member of the anti-war Weather Underground, was on the lam through much of the 1970s after facing indictment on riot and bombing conspiracy charges for his participation in the Days of Rage protests against the Vietnam War in Chicago 40 years ago. Charges against Ayers were dropped in 1974 due to illegal wiretaps and prosecutorial misconduct. Ayers went on to earn a doctorate in education and, over the decades, became a prominent expert on education reform in Chicago before occasionally crossing paths with Obama as he rose through neighborhood politics to the Senate.

TPM’s Greg Sargent wants to know whether Palin’s remarks on Obama open her to criticism for her own record consorting with domestic secessionists in the Alaska Independence Party, including longstanding member and Alaska “First Dude” Todd Palin, her husband.

If Palin is going to say this, it is now perfectly legitimate to point out that she repeatedly courted a secessionist group founded by someone who openly professed hatred of the American government, cursed our flag, and wanted to secede from the Union. Sarah’s husband, Todd Palin, was a member of this group, which continues to venerate that founder to this day, for years. …

And though Sarah Palin herself was apparently not a member of this group, there’s no doubt that she repeatedly courted this secessionist organization over the years. In 1994, Palin attended the group’s annual convention, according to witnesses who spoke to ABC News’ Jake Tapper. The McCain campaign has confirmed she visited the group’s 2000 convention, and she addressed its convention this year, as an incumbent governor whose oath of office includes upholding the Constitution of the United States.

For its part, the Obama campaign plans a “pre-emptive attack” with an ad set to roll out Monday questioning McCain’s “erratic” behavior. Here’s the text of the ad, quoted by Politico:

“Three quarters of a million jobs lost this year. Our financial system in turmoil. And John McCain? Erratic in a crisis. Out of touch on the economy. No wonder his campaign wants to change the subject.

“Turn the page on the financial crisis by launching dishonorable, dishonest ‘assaults’ against Barack Obama. Struggling families can’t turn the page on this economy, and we can’t afford another president who is this out of touch.”

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