WASHINGTON--In an exclusive interview, Fox's Bill O'Reilly has the most detailed exchange to date with Barack Obama over his relationship with Bill Ayers, the University of Illinois-Chicago education professor who was a member of the radical, violent, "Weather Underground" in the 1970s.
Ayers spent 10 years as a fugitive--and now lives in Hyde Park with wife Bernardine Dohrn--also a Weather Underground fugitive. They faced federal charges when they surfaced, eventually dropped. Ayers and Dohrn--who runs a program at Northwestern's law school--have become well regarded members of Chicago's civic community. I wrote a column in April explaining how the past of Ayers---an urban education specialist embraced by Mayor Daley--did not bother anyone in Chicago by the time Obama showed up on the scene.
MR. O'REILLY: Now for our top story tonight, part three of my interview with Barack Obama. After speaking with him last week, I have a new respect for the man. I believe he is sincere in his beliefs, and his presence has definitely changed politics forever.
click below to continue transcript, courtesy Federal News Service
For our conservative viewers, consider this. Without Obama's dramatic rise, there would be no Sarah Palin, there would be no new blood in American politics. But Senator Obama's associations continue to trouble some voters, and that is where we begin tonight.
(Begin videotaped interview.)
MR. O'REILLY: I'm sitting there, and I'm an American. I'm sitting there in Bismarck, North Dakota, I'm sitting there in Coral Springs, Florida, and I'm seeing Reverend Wright, I'm seeing Father Pfleger, who think Louis Farrakhan's a great guy, I'm seeing Bernadette Dohrm and Bill Ayers, Weather Underground radicals who don't think they bombed enough, I'm seeing MoveOn.org, who says General Betray Us, and I'm seeing you go to a Daily Kos convention -- and this week, Daily Kos came out and said that Sarah Palin's Down syndrome baby was birthed by her 15-year old with no proof -- they put that on there -- and I'm going, gee, that Barack Obama, he's got some pretty bad friends. Am I wrong?
SEN. OBAMA: You are wrong. Let's start from scratch. Number one, I know thousands of people, right, and so, understandably, people will pick out folks who they think they can --
MR. O'REILLY: I don't know anybody like that, and I know thousands of people. I don't know anybody like that.
SEN. OBAMA: Well, hold on a second. Let me make my point now. The Wright thing we've talked about. Look, I joined a church to worship God, not a pastor. This whole notion that he was my spiritual mentor and all this stuff, this is something that I've consistently discussed. I have not heard him make the offensive comments that ended up being looped on this show constantly. And I was offended by them and ultimately --
MR. O'REILLY: You had never heard those comments?
SEN. OBAMA: I hadn't heard those comments.
MR. O'REILLY: He was selling them in the lobby at the church.
SEN. OBAMA: What can I tell ya?
MR. O'REILLY: How many times did you go to church a month?
SEN. OBAMA: You know, I'd probably go twice a month sometimes.
MR. O'REILLY: And he never said inflammatory stuff?
SEN. OBAMA: He didn't say stuff like that, all right.
MR. O'REILLY: Did he say white people were bad?
SEN. OBAMA: No. What he said was racism is bad.
MR. O'REILLY: But not white people are bad?
SEN. OBAMA: There was no doubt that what he said was racism was bad. The relationship was ruptured, I'm not a member of the church.
MR. O'REILLY: Right.
SEN. OBAMA: In both his case and Father Pfleger's case, they've done great work in the community. And I worked in some very poor communities. That's how I got to know these folks because I was working in these neighborhoods.
Now, on this Ayers thing which, you know, you've been hyping, Bill, pretty good --
MR. O'REILLY: Not that much. You know, you were on the Woods Foundation board --
SEN. OBAMA: Here's the bottom line. This guy did something despicable 40 years ago.
MR. O'REILLY: You know, (it was ?) despicable last week when he said he didn't do enough bombings. That's last week!
SEN. OBAMA: I haven't seen the guy in a year and a half.
MR. O'REILLY: But you know who he was. He's on the Woods Foundation board. You know he is there.
SEN. OBAMA: Let me finish my point, all right. Here's a guy who does something despicable when I'm 8-years old.
MR. O'REILLY: Okay.
SEN. OBAMA: All right. I come to Chicago, he's working with Mayor Richard Daley, not known to be a radical. So he and I know each other as a consequence of work he's doing on education. That is not an endorsement of his views. That's not me --
MR. O'REILLY: But you guys partnered up on a youth crime bill. You remember that?
SEN. OBAMA: And it was a good bill.
MR. O'REILLY: No, it wasn't. That bill said that if a youth commits a second violent felony, he does time in an adult prison. That's two shots! You said no. You know the south side of Chicago. You know how many people are hurt.
SEN. OBAMA: Listen, you're absolutely right. My community gets hit by crime more than anyplace else.
MR. O'REILLY: And I'm right on that bill. You were wrong on that bill.
SEN. OBAMA: I disagree with you on that bill. We're getting too far afield here.
MR. O'REILLY: You and Ayers were allied on that bill.
SEN. OBAMA: No, no. Look, he didn't write that bill.
MR. O'REILLY: No, he was supporting it and so were you.
SEN. OBAMA: (Laughs.
MR. O'REILLY: But you guys were together on it.
SEN. OBAMA: No, no. Hold on a second. Now we're getting --
MR. O'REILLY: It's all right. If that's unfair, I'm sorry.
SEN. OBAMA: That's pretty flimsy. Here's the point, right. This guy is not part of my campaign. He's not some adviser of mine. He is somebody who worked on education issues in Chicago that I know. The problem that your viewers, your guys, your folks, the folks you champion, the problem you're going through, the problems they're going through with trying to pay their bills, trying to keep their job, trying to move up in this world, their problem isn't Bill Ayers. It was Bill Ayers 40 years ago when he was blowing stuff up.
MR. O'REILLY: They want a president who they can identify with.
SEN. OBAMA: They want a president -- and they should be able to identify with me because my story is your story. My story is your story --
MR. O'REILLY: But your associations are not my associations. Moveon -- General Betray Us -- the Daily Kos.
SEN. OBAMA: I was offended by that, and I said that I was offended by it.
MR. O'REILLY: But you said good things about them. You showed up to the Kos convention. You don't get worse than these.
SEN. OBAMA: Hold on a second. I mean, there's a whole bunch of stuff said on Fox about me that is completely biased.
MR. O'REILLY: Correct the record. Correct the record.
SEN. OBAMA: Well, but I still don't mind coming on your show. Just because there are a whole bunch of things that may be said on this network that I completely disagree with, I don't sort of assume that you have to take responsibility for everything that is said on Fox News anymore than I would expect you to take responsibility for everything that's said on Daily Kos. Think about it.
MR. O'REILLY: But that's a hateful thing. Fox News is not hateful.
SEN. OBAMA: (Laughs.)
MR. O'REILLY: Oh, it is.
SEN. OBAMA: Bill, Bill --
MR. O'REILLY: Some of our commentators --
SEN. OBAMA: If you were watching Sean Hannity consistently --
MR. O'REILLY: He's a commentator, though.
SEN. OBAMA: Well, but that's all these bloggers are. I'm not making an excuse for them.
MR. O'REILLY: Whoa. Hannity's never said he wants Dick Cheney to die of cancer.
SEN. OBAMA: Hold on. Hold on a second. Hold on a second. All I'm saying is these guys, they've given me a hard time. You know one of the times they gave me a hard time?
MR. O'REILLY: They're raising a ton of money for you.
SEN. OBAMA: You know one of the times they gave me a hard time was when I went to campaign for Joe Lieberman. Now, Joe didn't mention that in his speech the other night. (Laughs.)
MR. O'REILLY: And they gave you a hard time about voting for the FISA.
SEN. OBAMA: The FISA, exactly. So it's not -- all I'm saying is I expect to be held responsible for the things I say and do. And one of the things that's happened in this campaign -- and I think that you have the power to help correct the record on this -- is not to put me in a position where every tangential relationship --
MR. O'REILLY: There's a pattern of behavior here.
SEN. OBAMA: No, there is not a pattern of behavior. It is classic guilt by association.
MR. O'REILLY: The pattern of behavior is that you feel very comfortable, for some reason, in far-left precincts. That's the pattern of behavior that I see.
SEN. OBAMA: But Bill, I've got friends who are on the far right.
MR. O'REILLY: Who?
SEN. OBAMA: I've got colleagues in the Senate.
MR. O'REILLY: Who? Give me a name.
SEN. OBAMA: Well --
MR. O'REILLY: (Laughs.)
SEN. OBAMA: No, no, no.
MR. O'REILLY: I always do that. I'm sorry.
SEN. OBAMA: No, but here's what happens is if I give a name then the next thing I'll know is people will say, they're comparing this friend of his to Bill Ayers.
MR. O'REILLY: You know what I want to hear? I go golfing with Rush Limbaugh. That's what I wanted to hear there!
(End videotaped interview.
MR. O'REILLY: All right. Tomorrow, the final part of the Obama interview. He says he can get us off oil. We'll explore that in our no-spin fashion again tomorrow night.