... "on a regular basis".
Boy, that wasn't a good answer.
It didn't help that Obama followed up by analogizing Bill Ayers, the domestic terrorist in question, to a fellow Senator who vociferously opposes abortion, with whom Obama is also friendly. One man advocates legislation to criminalize abortion, the other is an unrepentant ex-terrorist from the Weather Underground, there is no difference in moral judgment in deciding to befriend either of them, right? (H/T Instapundit).
UPDATE: A reader protests, "Obama specifically mentioned [Sen. Tom] Coburn's statement that capital punishment is appropriate for abortionists. The issue is that Coburn advocated killing people for something Obama doesn't even believe should be illegal."
But the main reason people might be troubled by Obama's friendship with Ayers is not because Ayers has radical political views, but because he's an unrepentant ex-terrorist. The analogy would hold water only if Cockburn had been involved in bombing abortion clinics, escaped prosecution, and now publicly says, "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough."
And now that the transcript is available, you can read the full context.
Moderator: And I want to give Senator Clinton a chance to respond, but first a follow-up on this issue, general theme of patriotism, in your relationships. A gentleman named William Ayers. He was part of the Weather Underground in the 1970s. They bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol, and other buildings. He's never apologized for that.
And, in fact, on 9/11, he was quoted in the New York Times saying, "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough." An early organizing meeting for your State Senate campaign was held at his house and your campaign has said you are "friendly."
Can you explain that relationship for the voters and explain to Democrats why it won't be a problem?
OBAMA: George, but this is an example of what I'm talking about. This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who's a professor of English in Chicago who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He's not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis.
And the notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values doesn't make much sense, George.
The fact is that I'm also friendly with Tom Coburn, one of the most conservative Republicans in the United States Senate, who, during his campaign, once said that it might be appropriate to apply the death penalty to those who carried out abortions.
Do I need to apologize for Mr. Coburn's statements? Because I certainly don't agree with those, either.