Update | Hail Halperin: See incredible video at foot. Pressed by Mark Halperin, Robert Gibbs admits Obama continued to associate with Ayers after learning his past.
H/t Melody N. An Obama spokesman adamantly insists that in 1995 Barack Obama was the most clueless man in Chicago. Andrea Mitchell thinks talk of Barack Obama's ties to an unrepentant terrorist is a "distraction." Rudy Giuliani doesn't. Mitchell is happy to take the New York Times's word for the fact that Obama and William Ayers weren't close. Rudy, not so much.
After the former NYC mayor made the case on today's Morning Joe as to why Ayers matters, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs came on, called Giuliani a liar, and flatly denied that—when beginning his political career in his living room—Obama knew Ayers was a terrorist.
View video here.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Given everything that's happened in the markets in the last couple days, and if you were running for president, would you be running this whole campaign about a former Chicago, you know, radical who knew Obama years ago in community organization --
Rudy can be heard laughing off camera. Note Andrea's reticence in describing Ayers. She hesitates, throws in a "you know," then calls him a "former radical." Someone who sits in his living room, smokes a little pot, and rails against AmeriKa is a radical. When that someone plants bombs and people die, he becomes a terrorist. As fellow NewsBuster Geoffrey Dickens has noted, this isn't the first time Mitchell's been reluctant to call a knave a knave.
MITCHELL: Would you be talking about all this stuff, which frankly seems like a distraction?
RUDY GIULIANI: To you, but I don't think to the American people. Of course I'd be talking about it. This is totally extraordinary.
And a bit later.
GIULIANI: This guy, educated in the Saul Alinsky methods, good friend of Ayers --
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Um [dissenting] --
GIULIANI: -- very close to Wright. This is a very left-wing, most left-wing candidate of the Democratic party. It's ideology. It's ideology, Andrea, it's not guilt by association.
MITCHELL: But Mr. Mayor, the New York Times said he was not a good friend. The New York Times said they did not have much of a relationship at all.
GIULIANI [sarcastically]: Oh, gee, that's really, Andrea, that really persuades me.
MITCHELL: That he was not even a friend.
GIULIANI: The New York Times said that? That really persuades me.
Gibbs of the Obama campaign made his appearance in a subsequent segment, and wasted no time in calling Giuliani a liar.
ROBERT GIBBS: Mika, let me tell you. If you had a lie-detector test on Rudy Giuliani, one of you guys would have been hit in the head with one of those needles. He was off the charts. It's fine to have a debate, but let's get the facts right. Let's try to get in the ballpark of truth, and I don't think Rudy Giuliani's in the same area code.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: OK, OK, well, speaking of truth, though, Robert, let's—and I'm just going to tell you what the McCain camp put out yesterday, and they have quotes—true or false, because David Axelrod said Obama didn't know that Ayers was a terrorist when Ayers introduced him to Chicago politics. Is that true? Did Barack Obama know that William Ayers was a terrorist when Ayers introduced him in his home to Chicago politicians? True or false?
GIBBS: No, no. What David said was accurate. What David said was very accurate. Look, Joe, as has been written by any number of news organizations, what's been written by the New York Times: they knew each other, they worked on two boards together, they were not close.
SCARBOROUGH: But Obama didn't, no, no, back to my question: now, let's bring it up, because you called Giuliani a liar, let's make sure that you-all are telling the truth, here.
GIBBS: No, I'm just --
SCARBOROUGH: Let me ask the question. Did Barack Obama know, and again, I don't think that voters care about this, but let's clean it up and get it out of the way. Did Barack Obama --
GIBBS: I cleaned it up, Joe, I answered your question --
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you've got to let me finish the question.
GIBBS: He did not.
SCARBOROUGH: You've got to let me finish the question.
GIBBS: Oh, OK.
SCARBOROUGH: Did Barack Obama know that William Ayers was a terrorist when William Ayers introduced him to Chicago politics in 1995 in his home?
GIBBS: OK, I listened to the question and the answer is still he didn't.
SCARBOROUGH: He did not know Ayers was a terrorist?
GIBBS: And that's what David said yesterday.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, very good.
There's only one man in Chicago left-wing political circles who didn't know William Ayers was a former Weatherman bomber, and he's running for president. Funny, that.
Line 'o the Day, courtesy Jennifer Rubin at Commentary
Obama claimed that he didn’t know that Reverend Wright said or believed all those hateful things. Now he contends that he was unaware until . . . until when is not clear. . . that Ayers was a terrorist. For a very long time he apparently didn’t know the surge was working. Perhaps next time Katie Couric should ask him what newspapers he reads. He seems rather sheltered and uniformed.
Update | The Haley's Comet of Media Events: the Obama campaign being hit with probing questions by a member of the MSM. Mark Halperin of Time, who was a guest panelist on today's Morning Joe, caught up with Gibbs somewhere out on the campaign trail, and grilled him on what Obama knew and when he knew it about Ayers, yielding Gibbs's admission that Obama continued to associate with Obama after learning of his past.
MARK HALPERIN: Is it fair to say that [Barack Obama] continued to associate with [Bill Ayers] professionally -- and personally on a casual basis -- even after he learned?"
GIBBS: He continued to serve on a charitable board and an educational grant board with money supplied by Walter Annenberg, a Republican who was an ambassador under Richard Nixon. Yes."
Halperin: "But with the knowledge of Ayers' past?"