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McCain's Maine co-chair criticizes 'robo calls'

world Updated: Oct 19, 2008 09:59 IST
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Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, facing a tough re-election fight, urged John McCain on Friday to stop making automated calls into her state that link Democratic nominee Barack Obama to a 1960s radical. "These kind of tactics have no place in Maine politics," said Collins spokesman Kevin Kelley. "Sen. Collins urges the McCain campaign to stop these calls immediately."

McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, traveled to North Carolina in advance of a rally on Saturday. His campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Collins is being challenged for re-election by Democratic Rep. Tom Allen while also serving as a co-chairwoman of McCain's Maine campaign committee. The dual roles have created a balancing act for her.

The so-called robo calls which refer to Obama's ties to one-time Weather Underground leader William Ayers began Thursday, the day after the final presidential debate between Obama and McCain. They are being made not only in Maine, but also
Nevada, Wisconsin and other targeted states.

The calls say Obama "has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge's home and killed Americans."

In 1969, Ayers co-founded the Weather Underground, an anti-Vietnam war group that claimed responsibility for bombing several government buildings, including nonfatal explosions at the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol, though not a judge's home.

Ayers remained a fugitive for years but surrendered in 1980. Charges against him later were dropped because of prosecutorial misconduct. Eventually, he became a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and lives in Obama's neighborhood in Chicago.

In 1995, Ayers hosted a meet-the-candidate session at his home for Obama as he prepared to run for the Illinois Senate. The two also served on the boards of two nonprofit charitable organizations in Chicago. The city named Ayers its "Citizen of the Year" in 1997 for work on one of those boards.